Hurricane Ian already ranks among the biggest storms in US history – The Washington Post

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The devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian’s direct hit in southwest Florida is still being tallied, but the force of the storm as it slammed into the coast has already put Ian in the upper echelon of hurricanes to hit the United States.

When Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on the island of Cayo Costa, it brought maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and a minimum central pressure of 940 millibars.

Ian became the 37th major hurricane — a designation reserved for Category 3 or greater intensity storms — to ever hit the state of Florida, and just the 15th to be rated Category 4 or greater. Hurricane intensity records date back to 1851.

Measuring the sustained winds on landfall, Ian is tied at eight for the fifth-strongest storm to hit the United States. In the past two years, two other storms have battered the United States with winds of up to 150 mph: Hurricane Ida, which last year carved a path of destruction from Louisiana to New York, and Hurricane Laura, which also hit Louisiana and brought with it a 17-foot storm surge.

How climate change is rapidly fueling super hurricanes

Hurricane Charley, which made landfall in 2004 around the same location as Ian, was another storm that brought winds of 150mph – although Charley was much smaller when it made landfall.

The strongest storm to ever hit the United States was the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which landed in Florida with sustained winds at speeds of 185 miles per hour, making it a high-end Category 5 storm. The storm also had a central pressure of 892 when it hit the coast, which is extraordinarily rare in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, let alone on landfall.

Ian’s central pressure of 940 millibars put it in 18th place historically – outpaced recent major hurricanes like Hurricane Harvey (937 millibars), Hurricane Ida (931 millibars), Hurricane Katrina (920 millibars) and Hurricane Michael (919 millibars).

Looking only at Florida, Ian walks into a 3-way tie for fourth strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the state by maximum sustained winds, exceeded in order by Labor Day Hurricane (185 mph), 1992 Hurricane Andrew (165 mph), and 2018 Hurricane Michael ( 160mph).

By measure of minimum central pressure, Ian becomes the ninth strongest hurricane to ever hit Florida, surpassed by both historic cyclones and recent storms like Hurricane Andrew (922mb), Hurricane Michael ( 919 millibars) and Hurricane Irma (931 millibars).

While it’s too early to tell where Ian will fare in terms of lives lost, Florida has a history of deadly hurricanes, with fatalities generally declining in recent years due to improved building codes and a much bigger warning before the storms.

Florida’s deadliest storm on record was Hurricane Okeechobee in 1928, which was estimated to have killed at least 2,500 people, with some estimates putting the death toll significantly higher, according to the National Weather Service.

Since 2000, the deadliest storms to hit the state of Florida are Hurricane Irma, which killed 77 people when it made landfall in 2017; Hurricane Michael, which killed 50 people in 2020; Hurricane Frances, which killed 37 people in 2004 and Hurricane Charley, which killed 29, also in 2004.

It’s also too early to tell if Ian will rank among the costliest hurricanes to hit the United States, but it seems likely. According to NOAA, the 5 costliest hurricanes in US history are Hurricane Katrina ($186.3 billion), Hurricane Harvey ($148.8 billion), Hurricane Maria ( $107.1 billion), Hurricane Sandy ($81.9 billion) and Hurricane Ida ($78.7 billion). All of these storms except Katrina have hit the United States in the last 5 years.

How climate change is rapidly fueling super hurricanes

To be one of the 10 costliest hurricanes in US history, Ian would need to beat or tie the $29 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Michael, which early estimates suggest it could do. . A Fitch Ratings analyst estimated that insured cost losses in Florida could be between $25 billion and $40 billion, with more damage on the southeast coast when Ian makes landfall in South Carolina.

Speaking of South Carolina, if Ian makes landfall in the state as a hurricane as it is currently forecast to do on Friday afternoon, it will be the first storm to do so since 2016when Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the state, according to Phillip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University.

The last storm to make landfall in Florida and South Carolina as a hurricane was Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Ian will be far from one of the strongest hurricanes to make landfall in South Carolina, although the storm is still quite dangerous. Ian’s massive size means it will bring widespread tropical storm-force winds to both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Storm surge is also a threat to nearly the entire southeast coast, with a 2-4ft surge expected from northern Florida to the surge-vulnerable Outer Banks, with a 4-7ft surge expected in Carolina from South of Edisto Beach to Little River Inlet.

Ian regains hurricane strength and is about to hit South Carolina


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