Countries on this side of the world have been dealing with tropical storms and hurricanes for centuries, with perhaps the first report coming from Christopher Columbus, who encountered one near the isle of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) in 1495.
Here are nine facts about hurricanes:
- Hurricanes can form as early as January and as late as December. Hurricane Alice formed on December 30, 1954 and was active up to six days into January 1955. Similarly, Hurricane Zeta formed on December 30, 2005 and was active into January 2006.
- The most storms recorded in one hurricane season was 28, in 2005. Fifteen of those reached hurricane strength.
- The fewest storms recorded in one season was four in 1983.
- The most category 5 hurricanes recorded in one season was four in 2005 (Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma).
- The most storm names retired in a single year was five in 2005.
- The strongest September hurricane on record is Gilbert in 1988, which had wind speeds of 185 mph and air pressure of 888 millibars.
- The deadliest hurricane on record is the Great Hurricane of October 1780, which claimed some 22,000 lives on the islands of Martinique, St Eustatious and Barbados between October 10 and 16. Thousands of deaths also occurred offshore.
- The first hurricane warning issued in the United States was in 1873. The Army Signal Corps warned of a storm approaching the coast between Cape May, NJ, and New London, Connecticut, but it never made landfall.
- Hurricane Ivan (2004) is the costliest hurricane in Jamaica’s history. It left a trail of destruction totalling J$36.9B.