Central Atlantic Storm Investigators

Super Hurricane Mitch

From CASI HQ Monday, October 26, 1998 (Updated 11/09 pm) | By Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell | Central Atlantic Storm Investigators' Tropical Pages | See Also "Swan Island"

So how does Super Hurricane Mitch, at 180mph tonight (10/26), stack up historically?

The truth is: It depends on who you ask. In attempting to do some quick research for this page I found several different estimations of strength for the famous storms. What I show below was taken from the more reputable source - WXP Purdue used heavily. It is felt in the scientific community that pressure is a better measure of strength than winds, but I'm not sure people in the path of the storm would agree. So take your pick. To wit, the table below is organized by Pressure.

Also: Only two Cat 5 hurricanes had developed this late in the season prior to Mitch, which is likely the strongest ever this late. In record, only two Category 5 storms have hit the US Mainland. AccuWeather notes that Mitch is one of only 9 Atlantic Category 5's in the last 30 years. They also explain, with a QuickTime Movie, why Mitch is so strong. If anything on this page seems to be wrong or you have questions, contact me.

Mitch was the first Category Five storm in the Atlantic since 1989 (Hugo).

Thanks to Ed, who researched the following at Purdue: Of the 23 Atlantic category 5 huricanes, since the first recorded in 1928, 16 (13 since 1960) hit the U.S. mainland. Also, there have only been two category 5 huricanes that formed in the month of October, Mitch and Hattie (10/27-11/01/1961) which made land over the Yucatan.

Strong Hurricanes/Typhoons
Name Basin Year Wind MPH Pressure MB
Typhoon Tip* Pacific 1979 190 870
Typhoon Zeb Pacific 1998 ??? <8724
Typhoon Gay Pacific 1992 185 872
Typhoon Keith Pacific 1997 190 872
Typhoon Joan Pacific 1997 ??? 872
Typhoon Ivan Pacific 1997 ??? 872
Typhoon Yuri Pacific 1991 175 885
Hurricane Gilbert Atlantic 1988 185 888
Typhoon Nancy3 Pacific 1961 213 888
Unnamed1 Atlantic 1935 160 8922
Hurricane Allen Atlantic 1980 190 899
Hurricane Linda Pacific 1997 185 900
Hurricane Camille Atlantic 1969 190 905
Hurricane Mitch Atlantic 1998 180 906

*-It is generally held that Typhoon Tip was the Strongest Hurricane on Earth
1 - The "Labor Day" Storm of 1935 is held as the Strongest Hurricane to Landfall in US but there is little reliable information on it. It almost certainly was somewhat stronger while over open water but records do not exist. Wind readings from that time are also questionable.
2 - The "Labor Day" pressure reading is from landfall. This is the lowest pressure ever recorded on the Mainland US
3 - Due to modern day (1992) research, the wind reading for Typhoon Nancy is generally no longer accepted (see FAQ)
4 - Infomation Sketchy - This is rumored to have gone above 8.0 on the Dvorak scale which would be <872mb

Thanks to the Central Atlantic Storm Investigators for help as always, esp. Greg Drollinger for help on gathering this data quickly for this report. Also thanks to Jim Leonard for help with the Pacific storms.