How does Hurricane Ian stack up to other hurricanes?

Hurricane Ian is one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Florida.
hurricane damage

Hurricane damage based solely on wind speed. This scale does not account for storm surge, rain, and flooding

In the middle of the day on Wednesday, September 28, Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cape Coral, Florida as a high end category 4 hurricane.

Ian had sustained winds of 155 mph, making it just 2 mph short of category 5 strength.

Regardless of the label, Ian will go down as the fourth strongest hurricane to ever hit Florida. Ian is also only the third category 4 to hit the west coast of Florida since 1851.

Prior to Ian, the other two were a hurricane in 1948 (before NOAA started naming storms) and Charley in 2004.

Let’s see how Ian compares to the other major hurricanes to hit Florida.

To help with the comparison, we’ll use this chart that compares hurricane damage potential based on wind speed.

Charley (2004):


Path of Hurricane Charley

Charley followed a nearly identical path as Ian, making landfall as a category 4 hurricane with 150 mph sustained winds. Despite the similarities between strength and path, Ian will be much more devastating.

The reason for this is that Ian is moving at half the speed, meaning areas in its path will be impacted for longer.

Charley Radar

Radar image from Hurricane Charley

Another reason is that the area where hurricane force winds exist in Ian is nearly three times the size of it was in Charley.

Because of its size and speed, Charley only had a storm surge of seven feet, whereas Ian has a maximum storm surge of 12 – 18 feet. Based on wind speed alone, Ian has over 75 times the amount of energy as Charley.

Michael (2018):

Michael satellite

Satellite image from Hurricane Michael

Unlike Charley and Ian, Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle.

The category 5 storm had sustained winds of 160 mph.

While the wind was similar to Charley, Michael was a much larger storm and had a 14 foot storm surge.

Based on wind speed, Michael was almost 100 times more powerful than Ian.


Andrew satellite

Satellite image from Hurricane Andrew

Andrew (1992):

Andrew was another category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 165 mph.

Andrew also had a 14 foot storm surge when it made landfall in southern Florida.

Based on wind speed, Andrew was more than 200 times more powerful than Ian.

Ian (2022):

Ian rain

Cumulative rainfall from Ian

Ian brought a nearly 18 foot storm surge to Charlotte Harbor along with almost 20 inches of rain.

Ian is one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Florida and the areas impacted will take years to recover.

Ian Peak Surge

Ian Peak Storm Surge

Categories: National News