The Most Intense Atlantic Hurricanes in Recorded History

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This is a table of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes, measured by barometric pressure, since 1851. The data are taken from the National Hurricane Center's Best Track file for 1851-2010 storms and the advisory packages for 2010 storms if best track data are not available. In cases where pressure readings are tied, the hurricanes are ranked by their maximum observed wind speed. I should note that this maximum wind speed did not always occur at the same time as the observed minimum pressure.

Where possible, I have included a Wikipedia link to the storm in question. If there was no link for a specific storm, I included a link to the Wikipedia page for the season in which it occurred. Like other external links on this site, these links open in a new window.

Rank Storm Name Year Date1 Minimum Pressure Maximum Winds Maximum Category2
1Wilma200510/198821855
2Gilbert19889/148881855
3Labor Day Hurricane19359/389218535
4Rita20059/218951805
5Allen19808/78991905
6Katrina20058/289021755
7Camille19698/179051905
7Mitch199810/269051805
9Dean20078/219061655
10Ivan20049/119101655
10Cuba Hurricane192410/1991016554
12Janet19559/279141705
13Isabel20039/119151655
14Hugo19899/159181605
15Opal199510/49191504
16Hattie196110/309201605
16Gloria19859/259201454
18Floyd19999/139211554
19Andrew19929/239221705
20Beulah19679/199231605
21David19798/309241705
211910 Fort Myers Hurricane191010/1692415044
211853 Hurricane18539/392415044
241886 Indianola Hurricane18868/2092515545
24Igor20109/159251554
26Anita19779/29261705
27Gabrielle19899/39271454
27Esther19619/179271454
29Carmen19749/29281504
29Earl20109/29281454
291880 Hurricane188010/292814044
32Felix20079/39291655
32Lake Okeechobee Hurricane19289/1692916054
32Emily20057/169291605
32Inez19669/289291504
32Carol19539/39291504
32Felix19958/129291404

Notes

  1. Date that the hurricane achieved (or, if it achieved it more than once, first achieved) its low pressure reading.
  2. See the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale for category rankings.
  3. The Labor Day Hurricane's maximum wind speed is listed in a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation by Jamese Sims and David Glenn (of NOAA) as 185 mph with the NHC Best Track file proposed to be changed to reflect this. Its measured lowest pressure was 892 mb, but there was an uncalibrated and unconfirmed report of an 880 mb reading, which would possibly* make it the lowest pressure in the Atlantic basin. See the Wikipedia article on the Labor Day storm (linked in the table) for details.
    * -- Hurricane Wilma's pressure reading listed here may not have been its lowest either, and it is possible that Wilma also reached ~880 mb or slightly less. If any two Atlantic hurricanes are candidates for "membership in the 870s Club," these two are the ones. Other than location, they are remarkably similar: they had tiny eyes, intensified rapidly, and set pressure records for their times.
  4. These hurricanes predated satellite, radar, and airplane reconaissance. The values listed may not be either the highest wind speed or the lowest pressure.
  5. The Indianola Hurricane may very well have been a Category 5 at landfall. In fact, I suspect it was. See p. 48 (p. 13 in the PDF copy) of A Reconstruction of Historical Tropical Cyclone Frequency in the Atlantic from Documentary and other Historical Sources, Part III: 1881-1890, year 1886, by Partagas and Diaz.