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.
It’s the strongest storm on record to occur east of Florida in the Atlantic and so far north. And, 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.
Let’s walk through some of the more impressive stats.
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Strongest landfall winds (tie)
Hurricane Dorian’s 185 mph (160 knots) sustained wind at landfall on Great Abaco in the northwestern 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.
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Second in maximum sustained wind speed in the Atlantic (tied)
Dorian’s 185 mph sustained winds are second only to Hurricane Allen (1980) in the record back to the 1850s. Allen topped out at 190 mph sustained. Hurricane Dorian’s 185 mph sustained puts the storm in company with Hurricane Wilma (2005), Hurricane Gilbert (1988) and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.
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Strongest storm on record for the Bahamas
Hardest-hit have been the northwestern 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.
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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.
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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 as well. In a space of just nine hours Sunday, its peak winds increased from about 150 (130 knots) to 185 mph (160 knots) – a rate of intensification never before observed for a storm this strong.
Special To The Washington Post · Ian Livingston