Breaking down Hurricane Irma’s wind, water by the numbers
Hurricane Irma’s staggering strength led to catastrophic loss on the Leeward Islands and massive disruption along the length of Florida.
Here is a preliminary rundown of the notable weather observations and records from the storm. Intensity
The peak sustained wind speeds in Hurricane Irma were measured at 185 mph as the storm crossed the Leeward Islands, though momentary gusts around the eye likely exceeded 225 mph.
That tied Irma with the 1935 Florida Keys hurricane, Gilbert in 1988 and Wilma in 2005.
The record for highest sustained winds in an Atlantic hurricane was set in 1980 by Hurricane Allen, which reached 190 mph.
Of the 422 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean since 1950, only one had higher observed winds than Irma.
Irma’s pressure sank to a minimum of 914 millibars on Sept. 6, which is tied for the 10th lowest for an Atlantic hurricane since 1950.
Irma maintained that peak 185 mph wind speed longer than any other tropical cyclone on record worldwide, but records in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are very incomplete prior to the 1980s.
Otherwise, Irma did not set records for longevity — it existed as a named storm for nearly 13 days and spent 11 days as a hurricane. Landfall
The eye of Hurricane Irma crossed over Barbuda, Saint Martin and the British Virgin Islands at Category 5 strength on Sept. 6, which made it the strongest ever known to hit the Leeward Islands.
Irma became the first Atlantic hurricane to strike any land at Category 5 strength since Hurricane Felix hit Nicaragua in 2007.
Early on Sept. 9, Irma became the first hurricane to hit Cuba as a Category 5 since 1924.
Irma then turned north on Sept. 10 and crossed the Florida Keys at Category 4 strength with 130 mph sustained winds.
Irma weakened to a Category 3 with 115 mph sustained winds just before making the second and final landfall in southwest Florida. The highest gust in Florida was measured at 142 mph in Naples.
It was Florida’s first major hurricane strike since Wilma in October 2005, which coincidentally made landfall in exactly the same spot.
Irma was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Charley in August 2004.
Storm surge varies greatly along the coastline, and real-time measurements from these tide gauges are few and far between.
Coastal inundation exceeded 4 feet near Charleston, S.C.; Naples, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga. The St. Johns River near Jacksonville set a new record by climbing to 5.26 feet above the typical daily high tide level.
It’s likely that the surge was higher in the Florida Keys, but the official assessment is ongoing. Rainfall
Florida experienced Irma’s heaviest rainfall, with as much as 15.91 inches measured in Fort Pierce.
Localized flooding occurred as far north as metro Atlanta and western North Carolina.
The storm broadened and weakened significantly after crossing onto land, but some showers got as far inland as the Ozarks, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic.
Irma did not threaten Virginia with flooding because the core of the storm came ashore too far away, and there was no front to stall and concentrate the storm’s moisture into a zone of excessive rain rates.
Hurricane Irma spawned at least 12 tornadoes when it struck Florida, but the number of reports may change as damage assessments continue.
A satellite image shows Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6.