(Reuters) – Florida was preparing on Monday for the arrival of a major hurricane expected to make landfall early on Wednesday somewhere along the state’s Big Bend country, where the panhandle meets the peninsula.
Strengthening to a Category 3 hurricane, Idalia was expected to deliver sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 kilometers per hour), create dangerous coastal surges and drench parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas with up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Here is a list of some of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the mainland U.S. based on minimum atmospheric pressure, which scientists use to rate storm intensity. A lower pressure, measured in millibars, or mb, means a more powerful storm.
UNNAMED FLORIDA KEYS HURRICANE, LABOR DAY 1935 (892 MB)
The hurricane struck the Florida Keys as a Category 5 storm, the highest ranking on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. It generated wind speeds of up to 200 mph (322 kph) and killed more than 200 World War One veterans who were in the Keys to build a highway. After ravaging the Keys, the storm moved north off the western coast of Florida before turning inland. In all, more than 400 people died in Florida.
HURRICANE CAMILLE, 1969 (900 MB)
Camille struck Mississippi’s Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane, bringing devastating storm tides and fierce winds of 190 mph (305 kph) that demolished buildings and leveled orchards. More than 200 people were killed.
HURRICANE MICHAEL, 2018 (919 MB)
In October 2018, Michael became the third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. Michael was a Category 5 hurricane when it slammed into the Florida Panhandle with sustained winds of 160 mph (257 kph). At least 74 deaths were attributed to the storm, including 59 in the U.S. and 15 in Central America.
HURRICANE KATRINA, 2005 (920 MB)
The hurricane made a direct hit on New Orleans as a Category 3 storm, causing levees and flood walls to fail in dozens of places. Most of the city was flooded, and some people who were stranded in their homes had to climb to rooftops to await rescue. Katrina killed about 1,800 people and caused an estimated $108 billion in damage, making it the costliest hurricane ever to strike the U.S.
HURRICANE ANDREW, 1992 (922 MB)
Andrew struck South Miami-Dade County in Florida and caused an estimated $26 billion in damage. Until Katrina, it ranked as the most expensive storm in U.S. history. More than a dozen people were directly killed by the storm, with others dying of indirect causes.
UNNAMED HURRICANE, TEXAS GULF COAST, 1886 (925 MB)
The hurricane destroyed the Texas Gulf Coast town of Indianola, which at the time was vying with Galveston to become the state’s main port. Several dozen people were killed in the storm, which also ended a catastrophic drought in the region.
HURRICANE IAN, SEPTEMBER 2022 (947 MB)
While Hurricane Ian was not among the most powerful storms based on minimum pressure, it made landfall in Florida as a category 4 storm with 150 mph winds (241 kph), making it one of the strongest storms ever to hit the U.S. mainland in terms of wind speed.
Ian almost hit as a Category 5 storm, with the wind speed falling just short of the threshold of 157 mph (252 km). Only four hurricanes of that caliber have held that strength when landfall on the U.S. mainland. About 150 deaths were attributed to Hurricane Ian.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Marguerita Choy)