This page provides some basic, but very interesting statistics about category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin since 1851. Category 5 storms are extremely rare. In fact, only 34* category 5 storms (~4% of all hurricanes) are found in the historical record. In the 165 years since records began (1851), there have only been six years that contained two or more category 5 storms; the most in one season was four in 2005 (Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma).
The longest periods without a category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin:
- #1: 15 Years (1939-1953)
- #2: 9 Years (2008-2016) Discussed in the next section below
2016: Hurricane Matthew Becomes First Category 5 in over 9 Years
On the evening of Friday, September 30, 2016, following a period of rapid intensification over the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew was upgraded to category 5 status — the first category 5 in the Atlantic basin in over 9 years (since Hurricane Felix in 2007).
Prior to Hurricane Matthew’s upgrade, the duration without a category 5 stood at: 9 years and 26 days -or- 3314 days. This was the SECOND longest period on record.
Note: The count begins with, and includes, the day after the last category 5 dissipated, ending with and including the day before the next category 5 developed. Hurricane Felix weakened from a category 5 on September 4, 2007, so the duration is counted from 9/5/2007 through 9/29/2016.
Location of Hurricane Matthew at Upgrade (Not Current)
Atlantic Basin Category 5 Storms: Quick Stats
- Category 5 storms are extremely rare
- Only 4% of hurricanes reach category 5 status (based on historical data 1851 through 2016)*
- Only 34 category 5 hurricanes are found in the historical record (1851 to present = 166 years)*
- There have only been six years with two or more category 5 storms (1932, 1933, 1960, 1961, 2005, 2007)
- The most in a single season was four in 2005 (Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma)
- The majority of category 5 hurricanes have occurred in September (20 storms = 57%)*
- No category 5 storms have been recorded during the months of December through June
*Stats Updated: 10/1/16 to include Hurricane Matthew
Category 5 Hurricanes that “Hit” the U.S.
Note: These storms were category 5 when they made landfall. There have certainly been other storms that were category 5 but weakened just before making landfall. An example is Hurricane Katrina which was a category 5 in the Gulf of Mexico, but weakened to category 3 strength prior to landfall.
- Only 4 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States as a category 5
- Hurricanes that were category 5 at the time of landfall in the United States:
- “Labor Day” storm in 1935 (Florida Keys)
- “Beulah” in 1967 (S. TX)
- “Camille” in 1969 (SE Louisiana)
- “Andrew” in 1992 (S. FL)
Monthly Distribution of Category 5 Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin
Note: Technically there have been 34 category 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. However, the monthly distribution below adds up to 35 because Hurricane Matthew was upgraded to category 5 at 11 pm EDT on September 30 and was a category 5 into October; therefore, Matthew is counted twice. In the historical record, Hurricane Matthew is the only hurricane that straddles two months as a category 5.
- July: 1 (3%)
- August: 8 (23%)
- September: 20 (57%) Updated: 10/1/16 to include Hurricane Matthew
- October: 5 (14%) Updated: 10/1/16 to include Hurricane Matthew
- November: 1 (3%)
List of Category 5 Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin
Note: For best viewing on a mobile device, view horizontally.
|Name||Year||Start||End||Days Since||Yrs Since||Wind*||Pres*|
Data pulled from the HURDAT database.