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REPEAT CYCLE

Fifty years of hurricanes as strong as Michael in the North Atlantic

By David Yanofsky

Hurricane Michael has devastated parts of the Florida coast. At least 12 people have been reported killed so far since it hit on Wednesday (Oct. 10). Communities have been decimated, and officials are still barring evacuated residents from returning home.

At its peak, the storm had sustained winds of 135 knots (155 mph or 250km/h), classifying it as a Category 4 storm—and close to being a Category 5, which has wind speeds starting at 137 knots.

There have been 24 north Atlantic hurricanes since 1968 that had sustained wind speeds of at least 135 knots. Prior to Michael, the most recent was Hurricane Joaquin, which wrecked the Bahamas when it hit in 2015. The strongest on record was Hurricane Allen in 1980, which had wind speeds up to 165 knots and left more than 200 people dead. In the map above you can see the path of all 24 hurricanes, including Michael.

YearNameWind Speed*, knots
1980Allen165
1988Gilbert160
2005Wilma160
1998Mitch155
2005Rita155
1969Camille150
1977Anita150
1979David150
1992Andrew150
2005Katrina150
2007Dean150
2007Felix150
2003Isabel145
2004Ivan145
1971Edith140
1989Hugo140
2005Emily140
1998Georges135
1999Floyd135
1999Lenny135
2008Gustav135
2010Igor135
2015Joaquin135

* Maximum sustained wind speed