The following is a collection of useful information specifically on Category 5 hurricanes:


  • Hurricane Celia (August of 1970) had winds on land that reached 160 mph for several seconds, but was not really considered a Category 5 hurricane…

  • Hurricane Allen (July/August of 1980) was one of the strongest hurricanes to ever form in the Atlantic Basin. Allen reached Category 5 status three different times and is one of only two hurricanes to ever have winds reach in excess of 190 mph (the other being Hurricane Camille of 1969). Allen was the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record (reached Category 5 status on August 5th) until 2005’s Hurricane Emily (reached Category 5 status on July 16th). Allen made landfall north of Brownsville, Texas on August 9th as a Category 3 storm...

  • While Emily holds the record for the earliest forming Category 5 storm in a season, Hurricane Hattie holds the record for the latest developing Category 5. Hattie had high winds of 160 mph from October 30th-31st, 1961...

  • Hurricane Andrew was initially categorized as a Category 4 storm, but was upgraded to Category 5 on August 21st, 2002. The name Andrew actually replaced Allen; both names have been retired…

  • In 1988, Hurricane Gilbert became a Category 5 storm and is still considered the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere. Gilbert never made U.S. landfall, but hit Mexico killing 318 people…

  • In 1998, Hurricane Mitch was measured as a Category 5 storm. Mitch also never made landfall in the U.S. as a hurricane (remnants hit Florida as a weak tropical storm); it did however make landfall in Central America as a weak Category 1 storm. What made Mitch so deadly (it killed some 11,000 people) were the heavy rains (up to three feet) resulting in a high number of people drowning and others killed by mudslides...

  • Mitch was also one of the strongest sustaining Category 5 hurricanes on record: the storm maintained a constant Category 5 status for 42 hours. Hurricane David (1979) also sustained Category 5 status for 42 hours; the longest sustaining Category 5 storm to date however was the 1950 hurricane called Dog. Dog was a Category 5 storm for 2½ straight days (60 hours)…

  • Three other storms were Category 5 hurricanes for 42 hours or more, but all three reached that status by strengthening and weakening over a three day period. The storms: Allen (1980- 72 hours), Ivan (2004- 60 hours) and Isabel (2003- 42 hours)…

  • The shortest sustained Category 5 hurricane is a six way tie at just 6 hours: the Labor Day Storm (1935), Cleo (1958), Ethel (1960), Edith (1971), Hugo (1989) and Emily (2005)…

  • In 2003, although Isabel had sustained winds high enough to be rated as a Category 5 storm, by the time it hit North Carolina, the storm was down to just a Category 2…

  • In 2004, Hurricane Ivan reached Category 5 status many times as it churned through the Caribbean (running through Grenada, skirting Jamaica and the Caymans and running over Cuba). Ivan eventually made landfall around the Alabama/Florida border (but only as a Category 4 storm with high winds of 135 mph); the storm was unique because it split in two, made a “loop” around the country and hit Louisiana and Texas about a week later…

  • On April 12th, 2005, the National Hurricane Center revised the tally of the 2005 season, upgrading Emily to a Category 5 storm. A review of computer data showed Emily had briefly sustained winds over 155 mph making the storm a Category 5 (it was the first of four Category 5 storms in 2005). Emily never made U.S. landfall; it struck the Yucatán Peninsula. As mentioned, Emily was the earliest Category 5 storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin (beating Hurricane Allen) and the only Category 5 ever recorded before August (reaching Category 5 intensity on July 16th)…

  • The Wicked Sisters of 2005 (Katrina and Rita) both hit Category 5 status after entering the Gulf of Mexico but were less intense when they made landfall (Katrina came ashore in what forecasters initially thought was a Category 4 and Rita three weeks later as a Category 3). On December 20th, 2005, the National Hurricane Center revised its initial estimate and downgraded Katrina’s landfall strength to a Category 3 (top sustained winds of 125 mph)…

  • Hurricane Wilma (another Wicked Sister of 2005) holds a record as the fastest developing Category 5 storm ever (from tropical storm to Category 5 in about 24 hours). Like Hurricane Emily three months before, Wilma also trotted over the Yucatán . But instead of heading west, Wilma made a sharp right turn and bee-lined to Florida. It struck Naples (as a Category 3), crossed land and went on to surprise and literally kick the crap out of a very unsuspecting and unprepared Fort Lauderdale

  • There were barely any storms in the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season (much less anything that reached a Category 5). 2007 however was different: Hurricane Dean reached Category 5 status and slammed into Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula on August 21st, 2007. The storm had one of the lowest pressure readings on record (906 millibars) just as it reached landfall with sustained winds of 165 mph (the same sustained wind speed as Hurricane Andrew 15 years before). Dean hit the Caymans and Jamaica (and just skirted Cuba) before reaching Mexico

  • As mentioned in the Category 5 List section, only three storms have struck the U.S. with Category 5 intensity: the Labor Day Storm (1935- hitting the Florida Keys), Hurricane Camille (1965- hitting Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana) and Hurricane Andrew (1992- hitting south Florida)…

 

  • Of those three storms, the Labor Day Storm was the strongest (892 millibars), Camille second (909 millibars) and Andrew third (922 millibars). NOTE: even though Andrew was the third most powerful Category 5 storm to hit the U.S., it was the fourth most powerful storm to hit the U.S. Andrew is surpassed in low pressure by Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm that had a millibar reading of 920…

 

  • Also as mentioned in the Category 5 List section, Dean and Felix are two of only thirteen storms in Atlantic basin history to make landfall as Category 5 hurricanes (Dean killed an estimated 44 people; Felix an estimated 133). Hurricanes Dean and Felix were also the first two hurricanes to make landfall as Category 5s in the same season…

 

  • Now pay attention here as this last little Dean tidbit is a little confusing: Dean was the third most powerful storm to hit land behind the Labor Day Storm and Hurricane Gilbert. When Dean made landfall, the millibars reading was 906. The 1935 Labor Day Storm had a millibar reading of 892 at landfall when it hit the Florida Keys; Gilbert’s millibar reading was 900 (up from a low of 888) when that storm struck Cancun in 1988…


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