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MATTHEW

Fifty years of Category 5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic

This article is more than 2 years old.

As Hurricane Matthew approached yesterday, Oct. 6, Florida governor Rick Scott urged 1.5 million residents living in the state’s evacuation zones to leave immediately. The Weather Channel issued a warning so strenuous that it went viral. And Fox News’s Shepard Smith told viewers that their children would die if they didn’t evacuate in time, with a nervous smile.

Hurricane Matthew has killed at least 300 people in Haiti and is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage. Earlier this week, Matthew reached Category 5 levels with sustained wind speeds reaching 139 knots. It has since been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, but some meteorologists say the storm may strengthen before reaching the US.

Since 1967, there have been 18 North Atlantic hurricanes that reached Category 5 strength—sustained wind speeds in excess of 137 knots (157 mph). Prior to Matthew, the most recent was Hurricane Felix in 2007. The strongest on record was Hurricane Allen in 1980, which had wind speeds up to 165 knots (190 mph). In the map above you can see the path of all 18 hurricanes, as well as Matthew.

And here they are by year:

YearNameWind speed*, knots
1967Beulah140
1969Camille150
1971Edith140
1977Anita150
1979David150
1980Allen165
1988Gilbert160
1989Hugo140
1992Andrew150
1998Mitch155
2003Isabel145
2004Ivan145
2005Emily140
2005Katrina150
2005Rita155
2005Wilma160
2007Dean150
2007Felix150

* Maximum sustained wind speed

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