Is Irma really one of the strongest hurricanes ever?

(WTNH) — When we think of the term “strongest hurricane on record,” there are likely many names that pop into your head. Irene and Sandy may be two of them. Maybe Katrina, Andrew, and now Harvey is a name that probably sticks into your head. Now in many respects, those storms make the list of the most devastating storms on record, but they’re all certainly not on the list of the strongest. So which ones are?

In the “honorable mention” category, we have to bring up Hurricane Patricia in 2015. Although this wasn’t in the Atlantic, this storm went from a Category 1 to a Category 4 hurricane in just 18 hours and eventually packed sustained winds of 215 mph. In the Atlantic, Irma makes the top 5 list with some of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history. The strongest hurricane on record so far has been Hurricane Allen with sustained winds of 190 mph. Interestingly enough, the name Allen was retired from the hurricane list and replaced by the name Andrew, which subsequently was retired after Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992. Behind that at 185 miles per hour is the Labor Day hurricane in 1935, Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, and Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which was actually the second most devastating hurricane of that season thanks to Katrina, and now added to the list is Hurricane Irma.

Now it is important to realize that when we talk about “strongest” hurricanes on record, we’re talking about how strong the winds are blowing and not how much damage the storm has or can cause. Keep in mind, the long duration flooding was the major cause of damage and death during Hurricane Harvey, whereas with Irma, the wind and storm surge will likely be the biggest issue.

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