How Hurricane Ian compares to prior devastating storms that hit Florida

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How Hurricane Ian compares to prior devastating storms that hit Florida

Hurricane Ian is barreling toward Florida’s west coast, bringing with it the threat of “catastrophic” winds and storm surge as it verges on becoming a Category 5 storm.

The big picture: Only four hurricanes on record have made landfall in the U.S. with maximum sustained winds of greater than 155 mph, per Philip Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University.

  • In total, 14 Category 4 or 5 hurricanes have made landfall in Florida since 1851, the earliest data available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to Klotzbach.
  • If Hurricane Ian makes landfall at its current maximum wind intensity, it would become the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland on record, per Steve Bowen, the chief science officer at Gallagher Re.
  • Here’s a look at some of the strongest storms to hit Florida over the last two decades and their impact.
Hurricane Andrew, 1992
  • Hurricane Andrew is the “strongest and most devastating hurricane on record to hit southern Florida,” per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph.
  • Hurricane Andrew, one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 since 1900, hit Miami-Dade County and caused an estimated $26 billion in damage in the country, per NOAA.
  • The storm directly caused 23 deaths in the U.S.
A Homestead resident returns to his home, looking for salvageable items following Hurricane Andrew
A Homestead, Florida resident returns to his home following Hurricane Andrew. Photo: Steve Starr/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
Hurricane Charley, 2004
  • Hurricane Charley made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida, near Cayo Costa, an island off of Florida’s Gulf Coast, as a Category 4 storm, per Weather.gov.
  • Hurricane Charley was one of four hurricanes in just six weeks during the 2004 hurricane season, per NOAA.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday referenced Hurricane Charley in issuing a warning for Hurricane Ian, saying: “I know there are folks in southwest Florida who remember Hurricane Charley was projected to make a direct impact into Tampa Bay and then it turned and went into southwest Florida.”
  • “I would just say, the track may end up doing something similar but this is a much different storm,” he said.
A shredded palm tree stands amongst rubble in Punta Gorda, Aug. 14, 2004, after Hurricane Charley passed through the night before
A shredded palm tree in Punta Gorda, Aug. 14, 2004, after Hurricane Charley passed through. Photo: Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Hurricane Wilma, 2005
  • Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida as a Category 3 hurricane with wind gusts of up to 120 mph, per the National Weather Service.
  • 22 deaths were attributed to Wilma, including five in Florida and damage in southern Florida cost an estimated $16.8 billion, per NOAA.
Debris litter the ground outside a building in Marco Island, Florida, Monday, October 24, 2005
Debris litter the ground outside a building in Marco Island, Florida on Oct. 24, 2005. Photo: Gerald Weaver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hurricane Irma, 2017
  • Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane with wind gusts of 130 miles per hour and produced tornadoes, knocking out power for millions of customers in the state.
  • In Florida, 7 people died directly from the storm and the damage totaled approximately $50 billion, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A house raised from its foundations near the Atlantic coast in Key Largo, Florida, USA, 26 October 2017
A house raised from its foundations near the Atlantic coast in Key Largo, Florida on October 26. Photo: Michael Donhauser/picture alliance via Getty Images
Hurricane Michael, 2018
  • Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida as a Category 4 storm in 2018, making it one of the strongest storms ever to strike the continental U.S.
  • The storm caused severe damage in the Florida Panhandle. Eight direct fatalities were reported, including seven in Florida, Reuters notes.
Nine-year-old Jazzmyne Brock helps her mother and grandmother salvage items from a friend's trailer after it was destroyed by Hurricane Michael.
Nine-year-old Jazzmyne Brock helps her mother and grandmother salvage items from a friend’s trailer after it was destroyed by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on Oct. 20, 2018. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Go deeper… Hurricane Ian strengthens to Category 3 as it draws a bead on Tampa Bay

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