Four Category 5 hurricanes hit the US mainland

Only four hurricanes reached Category 5 magnitude when they made landfall in the United States. Ian and Katrina are not on the list.

As Hurricane Ian approached the west coast of Florida on September 28, it peaked with winds of 155 miles per hour and achieved Category 5 status at just 2 miles per hour. It eventually made landfall with winds of 150 miles per hour.

Before it hit land some meteorologists on social media believed Ian had a chance to strengthen in Category 5 by beating winds of 157mph.

Had Ian reached this magnitude at the time of landfall, it would have been only the fifth Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States. Some people have argued that there must be more than four Category 5 hurricanes to ever hit the United States asked about other devastating hurricanes excluded from the list.


Have only four Category 5 hurricanes ever made landfall on the US mainland?



This is true.

Yes, only four Category 5 hurricanes have ever made landfall in the United States


According to records from the US Hurricane Research Division, only four Category 5 hurricanes have landed on the US mainland to date National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)the weather channel and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Those four are the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, 1969 Camille, 1992 Andrew, and 2018 Michael.

Hurricanes are measured by their sustained surface wind speeds Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. This scale does not account for other hurricane hazards such as storm surges and rain. A hurricane’s “sustained wind speed” is the average of the strongest winds from a hurricane over a 1-minute period, the American Meteorological Society says.

NOAA says a Category 1 hurricane has wind speeds between 74-95 mph, Category 2 hurricanes have wind speeds between 96-110 mph, Category 3 hurricanes have winds between 111-129 mph, Category 4 hurricanes have winds that between 130-156 mph and Category 5 hurricane winds blowing at 157 mph or greater.

Neither Andrew nor Michael were originally classified as Category 5 hurricanes upon landfall. Andrew was previously classified as a Category 4 on landing for 12 years NOAA scientists have reclassified it as a Category 5 storm on landfall in November 2004 due to improvements in surface wind speed estimates. A NOAA analysis after the storm in April 2019, Michaels similarly increased wind speeds from Category 4 strength to Category 5 strength on landing due to the lack of real-time data.

More from VERIFY: Hurricane Ian: Fact-checking images and videos claiming to show scenes from the storm

The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 first landed in the Florida Keys with an estimated wind speed of 185 mph and barometric pressure of 892 mb. Both numbers are the most intense for any hurricane at the time of landfall in the US mainland. It remained within 50 miles of Florida’s Gulf Coast until making its second and final landfall in the state’s Big Bend region as a Category 2 storm.

Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi coast in 1969 with a sustained wind speed of 175 mph and a barometric pressure of 900 mb, making it the second most powerful hurricane to ever hit the United States

Hurricane Andrew landed south of Miami, Florida while its winds were blowing at speeds of 165 mph (265 km/h) in 1992. The storm continued past Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, eventually making landfall in Louisiana for the last time when it was still a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane Michael boosted to a Category 5 just before hitting the Florida Panhandle with winds of 160 mph in 2018 says WMO It was the fourth strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States

Climate Connections at Yale says this year’s Hurricane Ian was the fifth strongest hurricane to make landfall in the US after hitting Florida with Category 4, 150 mph winds.

Outside of the US mainland, American territories in the Caribbean have also survived the effects of Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes.

A unnamed hurricane in 1928 landed in Puerto Rico at Category 5 strength. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria devastated the US Virgin Islands with Category 5 winds in 2017, although none of the islands made direct landfall. Maria was downgraded to Category 4 before landing in Puerto Rico.

Many people today remember Hurricane Katrina as a particularly devastating storm, but it wasn’t a Category 5 when it struck Louisiana. In the last 18 hours before landing near New Orleans Hurricane Katrina weakened from a Category 5 hurricane with winds of about 173 miles per hour to a Category 3 hurricane with winds of about 127 miles per hour, NOAA says. Likewise the Galveston hurricane of 1900the deadliest natural disaster in US history, was classified as a Category 4 storm when it inundated the city with a massive storm surge.

In total, NOAA says that since 1924, only 37 recorded Atlantic hurricanes have attained Category 5 wind speeds at some point in their lives. All but one of these storms, Lorenzo in 2019, landedbut only four sustained Category 5 winds as they made landfall on the US mainland

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Laura Coffey

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