The 11 Strongest Hurricanes Ever To Hit The Atlantic Ocean

guest author image

Lydia Ramsey

Guest Author

Hurricane Irma churns across the Atlantic Ocean on September 5, 2017.Courtesy NASA

Hurricane Florence is heading toward the East Coast of the US with 140 mph winds

The storm, which reached Category 4 status on Monday, is expected to hit the Carolinas on Thursday or Friday.


The Atlantic Ocean has seen its fair share of strong storms — 2017's Hurricane Irma reached a maximum sustained wind speed of 185 mph, making it the strongest storm outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico

The categories on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale are determined based on wind speed and storm surge, but that's not the only element of a hurricane that causes damage. Flooding, a metric those categories don't take into account, can often become a costly problem, as seen when Hurricane Harvey flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana in 2017. 

To put big storms into perspective, here are 11 hurricanes that topped the charts as the strongest in the history of the Atlantic Ocean, based on wind speed and pressure. 

Hurricane Katrina, 2005 - 175 mph

Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Katrina intensified to a Category 5 with winds up to 175 mph in the Gulf of Mexico, before striking Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. Katrina was the third deadliest hurricane in US history, with more than 1,200 deaths. It caused $108 billion in damage, making it costliest hurricane the country has ever seen.

Hurricane Andrew, 1992 - 175 mph

Wikimedia Commons

About 25 years ago, the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew ripped through Florida with 175-mph winds, leaving millions without power and many neighborhoods completely destroyed. The response was so problematic that it led to major changes within the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to USA Today.

Hurricane Camille, 1969 - 175 mph


Hurricane Camille formed in the Gulf of Mexico and hit Mississippi as a Category 5 storm. Camille caused more than 256 deaths and is considered one of the most intense hurricane to hit the US based on its pressure, which was measured at 900 millibars. (The more intense a hurricane is, the lower its pressure.)

Hurricane Carla, 1961 - 175 mph

Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Carla hit Texas as a category 4 storm in 1961, causing $2.36 billion worth of damage. Its strong winds and storm surge had devastating consequences.

Hurricane Mitch, 1998 - 180 mph

NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Mitch hit Central America with 180 mph winds in 1998. The storm led to disastrous flooding in Honduras. 

Hurricane Rita, 2005 - 180 mph

Wikimedia Commons

Just a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, Hurricane Rita formed. The storm brought heavy rainfall to the state again, and hit Texas as well, causing $12 billion in damages. It's often referred to as the "forgotten storm" of the horrific 2005 season. 

Florida Keys hurricane, 1935 - 185 mph

Wikimedia Commons

An unnamed storm that tore up the Florida Keys over Labor Day in 1935 is still considered one of the "most intense" storm in US history, based on wind speeds and pressure. The wind was so powerful it knocked a train, pictured here, off the rails as it was delivering emergency supplies.

Hurricane Gilbert, 1988 - 185 mph

Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Gilbert ripped up the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico in 1988 with 185-mph winds and 888 millibars of pressure, the second-lowest recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm left destruction in Jamaica and Mexico before moving north through San Antonio, pictured here. 

Hurricane Wilma, 2005 - 185 mph

Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Wilma broke records at the time as the most intense hurricane ever to hit the Atlantic Ocean. It had the lowest central pressure of any hurricane in the Atlantic basin, with an estimated pressure of 882 millibars. The Category 3 storm was especially damaging to Mexico, Cuba, and Florida.

Hurricane Irma, 2017 - 185 mph


Last year, Hurricane Irma approached Puerto Rico and Florida with maximum winds of 185 mph, making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. It was part of a destructive 2017 hurricane season, and set a record for maintaining an intensity of 185 mph for 37 hours

Hurricane Allen, 1980 - 190 mph

Corpus Christi, Texas after Hurricane Allen.Wikimedia Commons

With max winds of 190 mph, Hurricane Allen holds the title as the storm with the highest wind speeds in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm hit along the Mexico-US border in Texas, traveling west. Allen had the highest sustained wind speeds ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere until Hurricane Patricia formed in the Pacific in 2015 with 215-mph winds. 

Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2018. 

Read next on Business Insider: Insurance and construction stocks are getting hammered ahead of Hurricane Florence