5 most intense hurricanes in history

Posted at 12:06 PM, Oct 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-23 13:08:51-04

Early Friday morning, Hurricane Patricia officially became the most intense hurricane in recorded history. The storm is a potent Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 200 mph.

The storm is expected to hit the Pacific coast of Mexico Friday evening. The hurricane could produce some astonishing damage with its storm surge, rain and winds along the Mexican coast.

Here is a list of the five most intense hurricanes — based off lowest pressure — in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins that have been recorded.

5) Hurricane Rita, September 2005

Top winds: 185 mph. Lowest pressure: 895 millibars.

Hurricane Rita was part of a record 2005 Atlantic hurricane season that included four intense hurricanes striking the United States’ coast. Rita sideswiped an already battered Louisiana coast less than a month following Hurricane Katrina.

The storm was responsible for seven direct deaths. The National Hurricane Center also claims that 55 people were killed indirectly by the storm, including 20 who died evacuating the storm who were part of a bus accident.

While the storm was an intense Category 5 in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm quickly weakened as it approached the upper Texas coast. The storm made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border. Maximum wind speeds from the hurricane were in the Category 2 range by the time it made landfall.

The storm was responsible for one of the largest evacuations in United States history.

4) “Labor Day” Hurricane, September 1935

Top winds: 185 mph. Lowest pressure: 888 millibars.

The Labor Day hurricane rapidly intensified after passing the Bahamas as it approached the Florida Keys. The storm struck the Florida Keys at Category 5 strength with estimated top winds at 185 mph.

The core of the storm was small, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was responsible for 408 deaths and $6 million in damage. It was the fourth deadliest American hurricane in the 20th century.

3) Hurricane Gilbert, September 1988

Top winds: 185 mph. Lowest pressure: 888 millibars.

Hurricane Gilbert was the first Category 5 hurricane in nearly two decades to strike land in the Atlantic basin. The storm hit the Yucatan Peninsula at its peak.

The landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula was the second of three landfalls for Gilbert. The first landfall happened as a Category 3 storm in Jamaica. The final landfall happened on the coast near La Pesca, Mexico with Category 3 strength.

The storm weakened, but not before it dropped several tornadoes in Texas.

The storm killed 318 people, with 202 of the deaths happening in Mexico.

2) Hurricane Wilma, October 2005

Top winds: 185 mph. Lowest pressure: 882 millibars.

While Hurricane Patricia has passed Wilma as the most intense hurricane ever, it remains the strongest storm in the Atlantic basin as it churned in the Caribbean at Category 5 intensity for 18 hours.

Like Patricia, Wilma saw a phase of rapid intensification. Wilma’s pressure dropped by 72 millibars in 24 hours. The hurricane struck Mexico before weakening slightly and producing Category 2 winds in South Florida.

Despite Wilma’s strength, Wilma’s death toll was relatively low with 23 direct fatalities. Five countries had at least one fatality.

1)   Hurricane Patricia, October 2015

Top winds: 200 mph. Lowest pressure: 880 millibars

Patricia became the first hurricane ever to reach 200 mph. The storm is expected to strike as a Category 5 Friday evening. The storm’s lowest pressure dropped by 100 millibars in less than 24 hours. Patricia has benefited from ocean temperatures in the mid-80s, and little wind shear, according to the National Hurricane Center.