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Hurricane Dorian has smashed all sorts of intensity records in the Atlantic Ocean

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 9/2/2019 Ian Livingston
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Hurricane Dorian is taking extreme to the next level. With sustained winds of 185 mph Sunday afternoon and evening, the Category 5 storm has risen to the top of the charts among the most powerful tropical systems ever observed in the Atlantic Ocean.

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It’s the strongest storm on record to occur east of Florida in the Atlantic and so far north. After striking the northern Bahamas, it matched the 1935 Labor Day hurricane for the strongest winds of any storm making landfall. These are just a few of the incredible feats Dorian has already accomplished, and more may be ahead.

Storm Tracker: Click Here to Follow Dorian's Path

Let’s walk through some of the more impressive statistics. 

a close up of a map: Hurricane Dorian's winds compared to the maximum winds in the hurricane database by 1-degree grid. (Ian Livingston/The Washington Post) Hurricane Dorian's winds compared to the maximum winds in the hurricane database by 1-degree grid. (Ian Livingston/The Washington Post)

Strongest landfall winds (tie): Hurricane Dorian’s 185 mph (160 knots) sustained wind at landfall on Great Abaco in the northwest Bahamas this afternoon tied for the strongest winds at landfall on record in the Atlantic Ocean. The only other storm with wind speeds that high at landfall is the similarly timed Labor Day hurricane of 1935. Dorian may have produced gusts as high as 220 mph.


Strongest storm on record for the Bahamas. This may go without saying given the bullets above, but it’s worth repeating — and zooming in on the hardest-hit places in the northwest parts of the island nation. Before Dorian, its worst storm was the 1932 Bahamas hurricane, which passed by with 160 mph winds as a Category 5. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 also passed just south of Dorian’s Bahamian landfall zone but wasn’t nearly as strong as Dorian.

Strongest storm on record east of Florida and north of the Caribbean: Whether your metric of strength is wind speed or low pressure (the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm), Dorian places first for the most intense in this zone.

a close up of puzzle pieces: Hurricane Dorian's pressure compared to the lowest pressures in the hurricane database by 1-degree grid. (Ian Livingston/The Washington Post) Hurricane Dorian's pressure compared to the lowest pressures in the hurricane database by 1-degree grid. (Ian Livingston/The Washington Post)

Gaining strength at record speed: Dorian underwent what’s known as rapid intensification between both Friday and Saturday and Saturday and Sunday. Rapid intensification refers to an increase in wind speeds of at least 35 mph in 24 hours. Dorian entered rare air for this metric, too. In a space of just nine hours on Sunday, its peak winds increased from about 150 mph (130 knots) to 185 mph (160 knots) — a rate of intensification never before observed for a storm this strong:

First time with four consecutive years featuring Category 5s in the Atlantic: 2019 became the fourth straight year with a Category 5 in the Atlantic, the longest such streak on record. Dorian became the fifth Category 5 hurricane to form in the past four years in the Atlantic following Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), Maria (2017) and Michael (2018). No matter how you count it, the overall trend in such powerhouse storms is upward.

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