ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricanes can be categorized by both intensity, minimum central pressure and strength or maximum sustained winds.
In terms of intensity through the Atlantic Basin, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Wilma takes the cake. In 2005, Wilma’s central bottomed out at a whopping 882 millibars. Millibars is a unit of pressure. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
Wilma also packed maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, tying it for second-strongest storm in terms of wind speed in the Atlantic Basin.
Hurricane Wilma also holds the record for rapid intensification in the Atlantic Basin, dropping 97 millibars in just 24 hours. It also holds the record for a 12-hour period, dropping 83 millibars in that time span.
Wilma holds the record for fastest intensification from a tropical storm to Category 5 hurricane at 24 hours. Wilma is tied with Felix for the fastest intensification from a tropical depression to a Category 5 hurricane at 54 hours.
From a wind perspective, the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin was Allen in 1980. It had maximum sustained winds of 190 mph.
Most of the above storms reached their peak intensity in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean. The warm water is extremely deep in those areas.
In terms of a purely Atlantic Ocean hurricane, one that never entered the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico, Dorian from 2019 is the strongest and most intense with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.
It’s minimum central pressure was 910 millibars. Irma from 2017 is the second strongest with a minimum central pressure of 914 millibars and maximum sustained winds of 180 mph.
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