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Significant Tropical Cyclones (1 Viewer)

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Although my given name is Andre, most people who know me call me Andy, so I have always identified with Andrew, THE recent high-impact major hurricane of record (along with Hugo) when I was being drawn to The Weather Channel hurricane/tornado documentaries and watching John Hope give the Tropical Update throughout the 1990s. Of course those have both since been eclipsed as the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history several times over.

My top ten most significant North Atlantic tropical cyclones in my lifetime (since 1986), somewhat weighted toward CONUS impact, but also factoring in meteorological "impressiveness" (peak intensity, longevity) and cumulative impact:

1.) Andrew (1992)
2.) Katrina (2005)
3.) Hugo (1989)
4.) Harvey (2017)
5.) Irma (2017)
6.) Ivan (2004)
7.) Dorian (2019)
8.) Maria (2017)
9.) Sandy (2012)
10.) Michael (2018)

This is a highly subjective list and I flipped-flopped on the last few spots with honorable mentions Wilma (2005), Rita (2005), Mitch (1998), Charley (2004), Laura (2020) and Iota (2020).
 
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Should also give an honorable mention to Gilbert (1988). I was only two when it happened so I don't remember watching the coverage or anything, but it set the basin record for lowest pressure until Wilma.
 

MNTornadoGuy

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Although my given name is Andre, most people who know me call me Andy, so I have always identified with Andrew, THE recent high-impact major hurricane of record (along with Hugo) when I was being drawn to The Weather Channel hurricane/tornado documentaries and watching John Hope give the Tropical Update throughout the 1990s. Of course those have both since been eclipsed as the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history several times over.

My top ten most significant North Atlantic tropical cyclones in my lifetime (since 1986), somewhat weighted toward CONUS impact, but also factoring in meteorological "impressiveness" (peak intensity, longevity) and cumulative impact:

1.) Andrew (1992)
2.) Katrina (2005)
3.) Hugo (1989)
4.) Harvey (2017)
5.) Irma (2017)
6.) Ivan (2004)
7.) Dorian (2019)
8.) Maria (2017)
9.) Sandy (2012)
10.) Michael (2018)

This is a highly subjective list and I flipped-flopped on the last few spots with honorable mentions Wilma (2005), Rita (2005), Mitch (1998), Charley (2004) and Iota (2020).
I find Hurricane Andrew interesting due to its extreme winds. It produced widespread F2-equivalent damage in some locations and the mesovortices/downbursts embedded in it produced F3 damage. Trees were denuded of leaves/branches, frame homes were almost completely leveled, saplings were bent to the ground and mobile homes were obliterated. Fujita estimated these mesoscale features could increase the wind briefly to 200 mph. The intensity of the wind damage is almost unprecedented for any landfalling hurricane in the CONUS.
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I find Hurricane Andrew interesting due to its extreme winds. It produced widespread F2-equivalent damage in some locations and the mesovortices/downbursts embedded in it produced F3 damage. Trees were denuded of leaves/branches, frame homes were almost completely leveled, saplings were bent to the ground and mobile homes were obliterated. Fujita estimated these mesoscale features could increase the wind briefly to 200 mph. The intensity of the wind damage is almost unprecedented for any landfalling hurricane in the CONUS.
hurricane-andrew-category-5-damage-mike-laca.png

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Yes, Andrew is certainly a rare and unique beast. Its winds seemed to behave differently and perform feats of destruction that stand out even among other Category 5s (which might have higher official MSW, such as Irma's 180 MPH). Rather like the Jarrell tornado and the totality of destruction that it produced at Double Creek Estates.
 

MNTornadoGuy

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Yes, Andrew is certainly a rare and unique beast. Its winds seemed to behave differently and perform feats of destruction that stand out even among other Category 5s (which might have higher official MSW, such as Irma's 180 MPH). Rather like the Jarrell tornado and the totality of destruction that it produced at Double Creek Estates.
Only a handful of tropical cyclones worldwide have produced wind damage on the scale of Andrew. One of these was Typhoon Karen from 1962 which struck Guam. Homes were completely leveled in high-wind "belts" with a "high frequency of internal tornado-type action" which probably means mesovortices. Trees on the central portion of the island were completely denuded and in some cases debarked. A tied-down twin-engine aircraft was carried a mile and a half, a 3x4 metal sign bolted to the side of a warehouse was torn loose and carried 2.3 miles.
 
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Cyclone Tracy is another one of the most impressive Category 5 tropical cyclones on record. It was the smallest storm of its kind on record until Tropical Cyclone Marco of 2008. Tracy was also extremely slow-moving, so the duration of its most intense winds likely added to the devastation. It also struck on Christmas Day, and due to this the suburb of Darwin, Australia was extremely unprepared, the TV news station only had a skeleton crew on staff due to holiday leave and many in Darwin didn't take any precautions due to wanting to celebrate the holiday. What added to the destruction was that most houses in Darwin were constructed quickly in the 50’s and 60’s, causing many developers to turn a blind eye to the structural codes and not bother with making them cyclone-proof.


The base of a steel electricity pole bent by Tracy.
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Memorial at Casuarina High School assembled from three house girders twisted by Cyclone Tracy.
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Extreme wind damage in Casuarina, one of Darwin’s northern suburbs. Entire forests were stripped of leaves and branches by the storm, an indication of extreme intensity (Image by Rick Stevens).
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MNTornadoGuy

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Cyclone Tracy is another one of the most impressive Category 5 tropical cyclones on record. It was the smallest storm of its kind on record until Tropical Cyclone Marco of 2008. Tracy was also extremely slow-moving, so the duration of its most intense winds likely added to the devastation. It also struck on Christmas Day, and due to this the suburb of Darwin, Australia was extremely unprepared, the TV news station only had a skeleton crew on staff due to holiday leave and many in Darwin didn't take any precautions due to wanting to celebrate the holiday. What added to the destruction was that most houses in Darwin were constructed quickly in the 50’s and 60’s, causing many developers to turn a blind eye to the structural codes and not bother with making them cyclone-proof.


The base of a steel electricity pole bent by Tracy.
View attachment 8764

Memorial at Casuarina High School assembled from three house girders twisted by Cyclone Tracy.
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Extreme wind damage in Casuarina, one of Darwin’s northern suburbs. Entire forests were stripped of leaves and branches by the storm, an indication of extreme intensity (Image by Rick Stevens).
View attachment 8766


Mesovortices produced incidents of extreme damage during Cyclone Tracy such as embedding a fridge in the side of a water tower 50 ft up and reportedly throwing a car into the upper stories of a building. A bus was also thrown 300 yards at an RAF base.
 

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One interesting but a forgotten hurricane is Celia from 1970. It made landfall as a Category 4 near Corpus Christi, TX. The hurricane produced widespread EF2 damage with pockets of EF3/EF4 damage due to downbursts. The highest estimated wind gust from this hurricane was 180 mph. The wind did many extraordinary things with debris being carried over 1000 yards from some homes, I-beams and steel trusses from a hangar were heavily mangled, mobile homes were obliterated with debris being carried hundreds of yards from the site and 18' high and 50 yard long steel-reinforced concrete wall was torn into giant sections and displaced outwards from the building.
 

Kory

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Off the top of my head and quick answer, I have a few....all U.S. focused landfalls.

Most impressive landfalling hurricane wind-wise: Hurricane Andrew. It’s hard to find more impressive damage in the modern era than what Hurricane Andrew produced (I’m only focusing on the CONUS). It forever changed building codes in hurricane prone regions of the US. I wish there was more on Hurricane Camille’s wind impact but it seems Camille’s (at the time) record breaking storm surge likely masked some of the wind damage at the immediate coast.

Most impressive storm surge: Hurricane Katrina. This isn’t even debatable. At a whopping 28+ feet it holds the world record and I’m not sure that will get broken ever again. This storm is what supercharged my interest in meteorology (as well as growing up in New Orleans during the extremely active early to mid 2000s hurricane season). Not to mention the humanitarian crisis Katrina created and the cost associated with the infamous 2005 storm, it’s hard to not put that overall #1 given the meteorological parameters, societal impact, and economic impact.

Most impressive rainfall: Hurricane Harvey. 5 feet of rain. That is all I have to say. 5. Feet.

Most impressive tornado outbreak: Hurricane Ivan. Over 100+ tornadoes produced will likely be another record that will go a very long time before being broken.
 

MNTornadoGuy

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2013 Typhoon Haiyan did the most intense coconut/palm tree forest damage that I have ever seen for a tropical cyclone and it was totally not surprising for being one of the most intense tropical cyclone in the history and the most intense landfalling tropical cyclone ever exist.
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These aerial photos show just how bad the damage actually was. The combination of winds well over CAT5 level and storm surge over 7m destroyed the entire coastline of Sama and Leyte island.
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Those trees and homes are obliterated.
 

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Typhoon Meranti, another unbelievable beast hit Ibayast, Philippines in 2016 after some weakening from its peak intensity yet still got 877.91hpa pressure. It was the current minimum pressure observed on land, 15hpa lower than Labor Day 1935, the previous record holder for minimum pressure observed on land .

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pohnpei

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What was the damage like to the island of Itbayat?
The damage was not particularly impressive compared to Haiyan because of some reasons like the houses on the island were made of big stones which were very resistant to strong winds. Another reason was the residential areas were in leeward areas so winds would be greatly weakened. The third reason was Meranti already went into ERC for about 4-5 hours at that time and the wind-pressure relationship has lost balance. Namely, it was not at its peak intensity at that time but the pressure rising was not very big yet.
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MNTornadoGuy

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One notable Atlantic hurricane is the Great Hurricane of 1780. This hurricane devastated the West Indies, killing ~22,000 people. "The strongest buildings and the whole houses, most of which were stone and remarkable for their solidity, gave way to the fury of the wind and were torn up to their foundations," all forts on Barbados were destroyed, heavy cannons were reportedly carried upwards a hundred feet, trees were debarked, a government building with 3-ft thick walls was partially destroyed and entire fleets were sunk. If all of these reports are true this could be one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. Some meteorologists have estimated the wind gusts might have been as high as 200 mph.
 

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