Florida is in a state of emergency as Hurricane Dorian, a Category 4 storm, bears down on the eastern coast of the state. On its current path, Dorian could make landfall near West Palm Beach some time Tuesday morning. If it does so at its current strength, with sustained winds at 140 mph, the storm could go down as one of the most destructive in history.
Some of the most powerful storms in recent years — Hurricane Andrew in 1992, for example — hit during one of the slower hurricane seasons of the past several decades. The strength of a hurricane is difficult to accurately predict, and the most intense storms on record vary heavily by decade, deadliness, and destructiveness.
In addition to high winds, other major risks associated with hurricanes include heavy rainfall, storm surges, and inland flooding. Many of the storms on this list have been the catalyst for some of the worst floods in American history.
Despite the fewer storms predicted this year, hurricanes may be increasing in frequency and intensity because of climate change. According to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, human-caused greenhouse emissions are likely to contribute to increased storm surges, rainfall rates, intensity, and an increase in the global occurrence of tropical cyclones.
To determine the most powerful hurricanes of all time, 24/7 Wall St. ranked tropical cyclones based on estimated central pressure at time of landfall for all hurricanes between 1851 and 2017, using data from the NOAA.