Hurricane Irma is a storm Americans will be talking about for generations.
After tearing through the Caribbean as a category 5 hurricane, Irma hit southern Florida over the weekend, where residents had been bracing for the storm’s arrival for over a week. At one point, Irma’s reach extended from South Florida to Jacksonville, its girth eclipsing the size of the state itself.
Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm on the morning of Sept. 11, losing strength as it moved inland. But it still broke weather records before making its way up the coast. Here are some of them (pdf), according to Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University:
- With Harvey hitting Houston in late August, 2017 is the first year that the US was hit by two category 4 Atlantic hurricanes.
- Irma was the strongest storm ever on record in the Atlantic, outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
- The 185 mph (298 kph) maximum sustained winds lasted for 37 hours, the longest time a tropical cyclone has maintained winds that strong.
- With Hurricane Jose behind Irma, for the first time in recorded history, there were two hurricanes with 150 mph wind speeds in the Atlantic at the same time.
- Irma was the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Leeward Islands, including Barbuda, Anguilla, and Saint Martin.
- The storm spent 3.25 days as a category 5 hurricane, the longest in the satellite era (i.e., since 1966), and tying with the 1932 Hurricane of Santa Cruz del Sur for the longest category 5 lifetime ever.
- Irma’s 914 millibar minimum central pressure was the lowest ever for an Atlantic hurricane outside of the western Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
- It was the first category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba in almost 100 years.
- Irma generated the most accumulated cyclone energy (ACE)—a measure that combines strength and duration—on record for a tropical cyclone in the tropical Atlantic. It has produced as much ACE on its own as an entire average Atlantic hurricane season.
According to Klotzbach, Sept. 10 marked the peak of Atlantic hurricane season for the year, so hopefully the worst is behind us.