Remembering Past Extreme October Hurricanes

October 9, 2010; 12:39 PM ET
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Tropical development is typically on the decline in October, but history has shown that there can still be potent hurricanes this time of year.

One of the worst October hurricanes was Mitch in 1998, which ramped up to a strong Category 5 while in the western Caribbean.

The storm spent several days wandering across Central America and dumped historic amounts of rain (as much as 75 inches) in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The flooding was worse than catastrophic; over 19,000 lives were lost, making it the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record.

The only Atlantic hurricane to take more lives was the Great Hurricane of 1780, which killed well over 25,000 people from the Windward Islands to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Hurricane Wilma in 2005 also reached full fury over the western Caribbean with sustained winds to 185 miles per hour. The storm's central pressure of 26.05 inches is the lowest ever recorded for any Atlantic hurricane.

Wilma's forward motion slowed considerably as it approached the northeastern tip of the Yucatan. Later, Wilma made landfall in South Florida as a Category 3 hurricane and caused major damage.

Then of course there was Hurricane Hazel in October 1954, which roared northward from the Caribbean, across the Bahamas, then right up the Atlantic states.

Hazel produced winds up to 100 miles per hour in Delaware, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania, and hurricane-force gusts were reported as far north as Ontario. Hazel claimed over 1,000 lives, mostly in Haiti.

Tropical development readily occurs during the first part of October, but the frequency of these storm decreases rapidly during the second half of the month.

In September, tropical storms are liable to form anywhere in the tropical Atlantic. In October, however, storms tend to develop closer to the United States in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and to the north of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Related to the Story:

2010 Hurricane Center

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