Updated Sep 28, 2022 - Energy & Environment
How Hurricane Ian compares to the strongest hurricanes that hit Florida
The big picture: Ian is the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida panhandle in 2018.
- In total, 14 Category 4 or 5 hurricanes have made landfall in Florida since 1851, the earliest data available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, per Philip Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University.
- Ian had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph when it first encountered Sanibel and Captiva but weakened to 150 mph for official landfall.
- Only four hurricanes on record have made landfall in the U.S. with maximum sustained winds of greater than 155 mph, according to Klotzbach.
- Here's a look at some of the strongest storms to hit Florida over the last two decades and their impact.
Hurricane Andrew, 1992
- Hurricane Andrew is the "strongest and most devastating hurricane on record to hit southern Florida," per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and had maximum sustained winds of 165 mph.
- Hurricane Andrew, one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 since 1900, hit Miami-Dade County and caused an estimated $26 billion in damage in the country, per NOAA.
- The storm directly caused 23 deaths in the U.S.
Hurricane Charley, 2004
- Hurricane Charley made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida, near Cayo Costa, an island off of Florida's Gulf Coast, as a Category 4 storm, per Weather.gov.
- Hurricane Charley was one of four hurricanes in just six weeks during the 2004 hurricane season, per NOAA.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday referenced Hurricane Charley in issuing a warning for Hurricane Ian, saying: "I know there are folks in southwest Florida who remember Hurricane Charley was projected to make a direct impact into Tampa Bay and then it turned and went into southwest Florida."
- "I would just say, the track may end up doing something similar but this is a much different storm," he said.
Hurricane Wilma, 2005
- Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida as a Category 3 hurricane with wind gusts of up to 120 mph, per the National Weather Service.
- 22 deaths were attributed to Wilma, including five in Florida, and damage in southern Florida cost an estimated $16.8 billion, per NOAA.
Hurricane Irma, 2017
- Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane with wind gusts of 130 miles per hour and produced tornadoes, knocking out power for millions of customers in the state.
- In Florida, seven people died directly from the storm and the damage totaled approximately $50 billion, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hurricane Michael, 2018
- Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida, was originally classified as a Category 4 storm in 2018 before NOAA upgraded the storm to Category 5 after a post-storm analysis months later.
- The storm caused severe damage in the Florida Panhandle. Eight direct fatalities were reported, including seven in Florida, Reuters notes.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.