To answer these questions, let us review the information available. We revised the information from the 6-storms from the period 2012-2017 (storms: Maria, Irma, Meranti, Patricia, Haiyan and Bopha). A brief description follows of the relative strength of each storm. Also, we reviewed the causes of largest blackouts on record.
- Hurricane Maria / Irma 2017 (references 1 and 2)
“Hurricane Maria is the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico. Maria was the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide of 2017. Maria was the thirteenth named storm, of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane caused damages across the northeastern Caribbean, compounding recovery efforts in the Leeward Islands already struck by Hurricane Irma. Maria was the third consecutive hurricane to threaten the Leeward Islands in two weeks, after Irma had made landfall in several of the islands two weeks prior and Hurricane Jose passed close afterwards.
Maria became a tropical storm on September 16, east of the Lesser Antilles. The hurricane reached Category 5 strength on September 18 just before making landfall on Dominica, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane on record to strike the island. Maria achieved its peak intensity over the eastern Caribbean with maximum sustained winds of 280 km/h and a pressure of 908 mbar. Maria damaged the entirety of Dominica. The island’s lush vegetation was eradicated. The islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique endured damages. Puerto Rico suffered damages too, including destruction of its previously damaged electrical grid. For weeks in Maria’s wake, the island’s population suffered from flooding. Losses from the hurricane, mostly in Puerto Rico, ranked it as the first-costliest tropical cyclone on record.
Maria followed Irma. Hurricane Irma was a Cape Verde hurricane. The strongest observed in the Atlantic in terms of maximum sustained winds since Wilma, and the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region. Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands on record, followed by Hurricane Maria two weeks later, and is the second-costliest Caribbean hurricane on record, after Maria. The ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, second hurricane, and first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Irma caused damages, particularly in the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.”
2. Typhoon Meranti / Typhon Fercie 2016 (reference 3)
“Typhoon Meranti (Typhoon Ferdie in the Phillipines), was one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record. Impacting the Batanes in the Philippines, Taiwan, as well as Fujian, China in September 2016, Meranti formed as a tropical depression on September 8 near the island of Guam. Tracking to the west northwest, Meranti gradually intensified until September 11, at which point it began a period of rapid intensification. It became a super typhoon early on September 12, as it passed through the Luzon Strait, ultimately reaching its peak intensity on September 13 with 1-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h. Afterwards, it passed directly over the island of Itbayat. Meranti passed to the south of Taiwan as a super typhoon and began weakening. By September 15, it struck China as a Category 2-equivalent typhoon, becoming the strongest typhoon on record to impact Fujian Province. The island of Itbayat sustained a direct hit from the super typhoon near its peak intensity.
With JTWC-estimated 1-minute sustained winds of 315 km, Meranti is tied with Typhoon Haiyan as the second-strongest tropical cyclone on record by wind speed. Additionally, in terms of 1-minute sustained winds, the storm’s landfall on the island of Itbayat shortly after peak intensity ties it with Haiyan as the strongest land-falling tropical cyclone on record. The estimated pressure of 890 mbar was also the lowest on record in the Western Pacific since 2010.”
3. Hurricane Patricia 2015 (reference 4)
“Hurricane Patricia was the second-most intense tropical cyclone on record worldwide, behind Typhoon Tip in 1979, with a minimum atmospheric pressure of 872 mbar. Originating from a disturbance near the Gulf of Tehuantepec, in mid-October 2015. Patricia was first classified a tropical depression on October 20. The system became a tropical storm and was named Patricia, the twenty-fourth named storm of the annual hurricane season. Environmental conditions fueled intensification on October 22. Patricia grew from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 24 hours—a near-record pace. On October 23, the hurricane achieved its record peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 345 km/h. This made it the most intense tropical cyclone on record in the Western Hemisphere, and the strongest globally in terms of 1-minute maximum sustained winds. On October 23, weakening ensued and Patricia made land-fall near Cuixmala, Jalisco, with winds of 240 km/h. This made it the strongest land-falling hurricane on record along the Pacific coast of Mexico. As a tropical cyclone, Patricia’s effects in Mexico were rural, mitigating a potential large-scale disaster.”
4. Typhoon Haiyan / Typhoon Yolanda 2014 (reference 5)
“Typhoon Haiyan (Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines) was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded. Haiyan devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record. In terms of (Joint Typhoon Warning Center) JTWC-estimated 1-minute sustained winds, Haiyan is tied with Meranti for being the strongest land-falling tropical cyclone on record. Haiyan originated east-southeast of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia on November 2 and the system developed into a tropical depression the following day. On November 4, the system began a period of intensification that brought it to typhoon intensity on November 5. By November 6, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center assessed the system as a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale; the storm passed over the island of Kayangel in Palau after attaining this strength.
Thereafter, it continued to intensify; on November 7, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) upgraded the storm’s maximum ten-minute sustained winds to 230 km/h, the highest in relation to the cyclone. The Hong Kong Observatory put the storm’s maximum ten-minute sustained winds at 285 km/h prior to landfall in the central Philippines, while the China Meteorological Administration estimated the maximum two-minute sustained winds at the time to be around 280 km/h. At the same time, the JTWC estimated the system’s one-minute sustained winds to 315 km/h, making Haiyan the strongest tropical cyclone ever observed based on wind speed, a record which would then be surpassed by Hurricane Patricia in 2015 at 345 km/h. Haiyan is also tied with Typhoon Meranti in 2016 as the strongest tropical cyclone in the Eastern Hemisphere by 1-minute sustained winds. On November 7, the eye of the cyclone made its first land-fall in the Philippines at Guiuan, Eastern Samar at peak strength.”
5. Typhoon Bopha 2012 (reference 6)
“Typhoon Bopha (Typhoon Pablo in the Phillipines), was the strongest known tropical cyclone to ever hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, making landfall as a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 280 km/h. Bopha originated unusually close to the equator, becoming the second-most southerly Category 5 super typhoon, reaching a minimum latitude of 7.4°N on December 3. After first hitting Palau, Bopha made land-fall late on December 3 on Mindanao, an island that had been devastated by a much weaker storm in December 2011.”
6. Major Global Blackouts (reference 7)
“Hurricane Maria produced the largest blackout in US history.
Rodium’s October-analysis compared blackouts based on the cumulative lost customer-hours of service. Using that metric, Hurricane Maria surpassed all other US blackouts in recorded history by causing over 1.2 billion lost customer-hours a little more than a month after the storm hit. As of the end of April 2017, that number has grown to 3.4 billion. That makes Maria three times larger than the next biggest blackout in US history (see Figure). In fact, more customer-hours have been lost in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria than in the rest of the US over the past five years due to all causes combined.”
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