Was Hurricane Michael more powerful than Andrew, Katrina and Maria?

Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 22:42:21-04

With its low air pressure, Hurricane Michael unofficially sits as the third-strongest landfalling hurricane to strike the United States. 

Having such a tremendously low air pressure typically causes storms to have strong winds, and Michael was no exception. 

Hurricane Hunters from the Air Force and NOAA estimated Michael's lowest pressure was 919 MB at landfall. The only two hurricanes with a lower pressure at landfall to hit the United States were the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Camille of 1969.

Also based on estimates, Michael had top winds of 155 MPH, which is just below Category 5 status. 

Based on top winds speeds, Michael was tied for the sixth-strongest landfalling hurricane in US history, tied with Hurricane Maria in 2017 and "Guam" in 1900. 

In terms of air pressure, Michael was 1 MB stronger than Katrina in 2005 and Maria in 2017 at landfall, and 3 MBs stronger than Andrew of 1992. Michael's top winds at landfall were well ahead of Katrina's top winds at landfall of 130 MPH, on par with Maria's top winds at landfall of 155 MPH, but below Andrew's top winds of 165 MPH.

But in the immediate aftermath of Andrew, it was declared a Category 4 hurricane at landfall. It was not until years later when the National Hurricane Center concluded that winds in Andrew were greater than 157 MPH, marking the only Category 5 hurricane to strike the US since Camille in 1969. 

Like Andrew, Michael continued to strengthen all the way until landfall. In just three days, the storm went from a tropical storm to a high-end Category 4 hurricane. 

Other reasons Micheal will be notable:

- Michael was just the sixth hurricane of at least Category 4 strength to hit Florida since 1950. 
- Michael is the strongest hurricane to hit the US in October. 
- Michael is the strongest hurricane based on air pressure to strike the US since Camille in 1969. 
- Michael's top winds were the strongest to hit the contiguous United States since Andrew.