We talk about a lot of different terms when it comes to how strong a hurricane is. Hurricane Michael has been called “the strongest hurricane”, but is it really? Well, it depends on the criteria, location, and time frame you’re using.
Aside from a hurricane’s category, we typically use pressure and winds to indicate strength. The lower the pressure, the stronger the hurricane. The stronger the winds, the stronger the hurricane. We’ve heard a lot about the massive pressure drop Michael had during its development, so we’ll focus on pressure and how Michael actually stacks up to previous storms.
Michael doesn’t rank in the top three for lowest pressure ever recorded or recorded at landfall. It does, however, rank when looking just at U.S. hurricanes. The lowest pressure with a hurricane at landfall in the U.S. was 892 millibars with the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Hurricane Camille in 1969 came ashore along the Gulf Coast with a pressure of 900 millibars. Michael had a pressure of 919 millibars.
Michael did have a slightly lower pressure than 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which also made landfall in Florida. However, Andrew’s winds were stronger with a max at 175 mph compared to Michael’s 155. Michael doesn’t even crack the top 10 for strongest winds speeds ever.
Regardless of rank, Michael had cause incredible destruction and we’ll likely see more numbers coming out for damages, injuries, fatalities, and costs to rebuild over the coming days, weeks, and months.