Why Hurricane Dorian was such a record-setting storm

Dorian tied the 84-year-old record for the strongest storm to make landfall

By Julie Watkins - Meteorologist
Scott Olson/Getty Images

An aerial view of damage caused by Hurricane Dorian is seen in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island on September 4, 2019 in Great Abaco, Bahamas. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's a reason Florida was on high alert when it came to Hurricane Dorian. It was a powerhouse tropical cyclone that smashed all kinds of records in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Dorian is the 35th Category 5 storm to form in the Atlantic since 1924. Of those, five have come in the last four years, which brings us to Dorian's first record. The years 2016 through 2019 are the most consecutive years to feature at least one Category 5 hurricane. To put that in perspective, on average, hurricanes of such intensity typically occur once every three years in this region. 

Dorian is now the strongest storm on record to occur east of Florida and so far north, with winds gusts of 220 mph. Typically, water temperatures are warmer farther south and with less wind shear, it becomes a prime environment for storms to strengthen. 

Not only did Dorian beat those odds, it also saw an unprecedented rate of rapid intensification. In just nine hours on Sunday, its peak winds increased from 150 mph to 185 mph. Dorian's ability to gain strength at record speed really made Florida pay attention.

This was the strongest storm on record for the Bahamas and was tied with the 1935 Labor Day storm as the strongest storm to make landfall anywhere.

Florida definitely dodged a bullet as Dorian's might and power stayed well offshore. A track of just 20 to 30 miles closer to us would have resulted in a completely different outcome.

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