Since the reliable record keeping of tropical cyclone data within the North Atlantic Ocean began in 1851, there have been 1,505 systems of at least tropical storm intensity and 879 of at least hurricane intensity. Though a majority of these tropical cyclones have fallen within climatological averages, prevailing atmospheric conditions occasionally lead to anomalous tropical systems which at times reach extremes in statistical record-keeping including in duration and intensity. The scope of this list is limited to tropical cyclone records solely within the Atlantic Ocean north of the equator and is subdivided by their reason for notability.
Hurricane Alice was both the latest and earliest recorded hurricane to exist in any given calendar year.
Climatologically speaking, approximately 97 percent of tropical cyclones that form in the North Atlantic develop between the dates of June 1 and November 30 – dates which delimit the modern-day Atlantic hurricane season. Though the beginning of the annual hurricane season has historically remained the same, the official end of the hurricane season has shifted from its initial date of October 31. Regardless, on average once every few years a tropical cyclone develops outside the limits of the season; as of August 2013 there have been 65 tropical cyclones in the off-season, with the most recent being Tropical Storm Beryl in 2012. The first tropical cyclone of the 1938 Atlantic hurricane season, which formed on January 3, became the earliest forming tropical storm and hurricane after reanalysis concluded on the storm in December 2012. In 1951, Hurricane Able became the earliest forming major hurricane – a tropical cyclone with winds exceeding 115 mph (185 km/h)[nb 1] – after it reached the equivalent of Category 3 intensity on May 21. Though it developed within the bounds of the Atlantic hurricane season,, Hurricane Audrey in 1957 became the earliest developing Category 4 hurricane on record after it reached the intensity on June 27. The earliest-forming Category 5 hurricane, Emily, reached the highest intensity on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale on July 17, 2005.
Though the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season occurs on November 30, the dates of October 31 and November 15 have also historically marked the official end date for the hurricane season. December, the only month of the year after the hurricane season, has featured the cyclogenesis of fourteen tropical cyclones.Tropical Storm Zeta in 2005 was the latest tropical cyclone to attain tropical storm intensity as it did so on December 30. However, the second Hurricane Alice in 1954 was the latest forming tropical cyclone to attain hurricane intensity. Both Zeta and Alice were the only two storms to exist in two calendar years – the former from 1954 to 1955 and the latter from 2005 to 2006. No storms have been recorded to exceed Category 1 hurricane intensity in December. In 1999, Hurricane Lenny reached Category 4 intensity on November 17 as it took an unprecedented west to east track across the Caribbean; its intensity made it the latest developing Category 4 hurricane, though this was well within the bounds of the hurricane season.Hurricane Hattie (October 27-November 1, 1961) was initially thought to have been the latest forming Category 5 hurricane ever documented, though reanalysis indicated that a devastating hurricane in 1932 reached such an intensity at a later date. Consequently, this made the hurricane the latest developing tropical cyclone to reach all four Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale classifications past Category 1 intensity.
Note: Storms that originally form as tropical depression will not be posted unless they reach tropical storm status (for example, Hurricane Michael in 2012 formed on September 3 as tropical depression, but was not named until it reached tropical storm status, on September 4, thus putting Hurricane Michael on the list with the date September 4).
Hurricane Faith traversed a greater distance and retained tropical cyclone status further north than any other Atlantic hurricane.
This list contains tropical cyclones that formed at or moved to an extraordinary latitude or longitude. This list may include storms that reach extreme north latitude, or very equatorial cyclones. It should be noted that before the satellite era, analysis of distant tropical cyclones was extremely difficult.
1958 - Hurricane Cleo was the easternmost forming Category 5 hurricane, at around 49.2°W.
1960 - Hurricane Ethel reached Category 5 intensity at 28.1° N, farther north than any other storm in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea or Atlantic Ocean. Ethel's intensity is debatable and Hurricane Carla in 1961 may hold the record, becoming a Category 5 at 27°N.
1966 - Hurricane Faith retained tropical cyclone status further north than any other storm, being classified as extratropical at about 62°N. It also retained Category 2 intensity through this period.
1971 - Hurricane #2 became a hurricane at 46°N, the highest latitude a tropical storm has been upgraded in the Atlantic.
1973 - Tropical Storm Christine developed as a tropical depression at 14°W over western Africa, the eastern-most tropical depression formation in the Atlantic basin.
1978 - Tropical Storm Amelia developed into a tropical depression at 96.7°W while located 30 miles (48 km) south of Brownsville, Texas, the western-most forming tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin.
1978 - Hurricane Ella retained Category 4 intensity further north than any other Atlantic hurricane, reaching about 45°N before weakening.
1980 - Hurricane Frances intensified into a Category 3 hurricane further south and east than any other storm on record, doing so at 29.8°W.
1982 - Hurricane Debby reached Category 4 strength at 38.8°N, eclipsing the previous record set by Hurricane Ella in 1978.
1988 - Tropical Storm Alberto was classified a tropical storm off the coast of Massachusetts, which is further north than any other tropical storm on record.
1990 - Hurricane Isidore formed at a lower latitude than any other tropical cyclone on record for the North Atlantic, 7.2°N.
2004 - Hurricane Ivan became a Category 3 at 9.6°N latitude, the lowest latitude ever recorded for a major hurricane. It also set the record for southernmost Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, reaching these intensities at 10.6°N and 13.7°N respectively.
2005 - Hurricane Vince formed at a record northeast point in the Atlantic, however, this record was later broken by Grace in 2009. Vince also became a hurricane further east than any storm in Atlantic history at 18.9°W.
July 3, 2008 – Hurricane Bertha reached tropical storm intensity at 24.0°W, becoming the easternmost developing tropical storm in the month of July. Bertha would later reach hurricane and major hurricane intensity at 49.4°W and 51.6°W, respectively, also attaining monthly easternmost records for those categories.
October 4, 2009 – Tropical Storm Grace developed into a tropical storm near the Azores at 38.5°N latitude by 29.5°W longitude, making it the furthest northeast that a storm has ever intensified into a tropical storm in the Atlantic. Grace would persist as a tropical storm for roughly two days before transitioning into an extratropical storm just southwest of Ireland at 12.7°W longitude by 48.8°N latitude.
September 15, 2010 – Hurricane Julia reached Category 4 intensity at 31.4°W longitude, making it the easternmost tropical cyclone to reach such an intensity. This also makes it the strongest known tropical cyclone in the Atlantic east of the 40th meridian west.
June 21, 2012 – Hurricane Chris was upgraded to hurricane intensity at 39.5°N latitude, attaining the record for the farthest-north for an Atlantic June hurricane to reach such an intensity; Chris would maintain hurricane intensity as far north as 41.9°N before weakening back to tropical storm strength.
Generally speaking, the intensity of a tropical cyclone is determined by either the storm's maximum sustained winds or lowest barometric pressure. The following table lists the most intense Atlantic hurricanes in terms of their lowest barometric pressure. In terms of wind speed, hurricanes Allen and Camille (in 1980 and 1969, respectively) were the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclones on record, with maximum sustained winds of 190 mph (310 km/h). However, these measurements are suspect since instrumentation used to document wind speeds at the time would likely succumb to winds of such intensity. Nonetheless, their central pressures are low enough to rank them among the strongest recorded Atlantic hurricanes.
Owing to their intensity, the strongest Atlantic hurricanes have all attained Category 5 classification. Hurricane Opal, the strongest Category 4 hurricane recorded, intensified to reach a minimum pressure of 916 mbar (hPa; 27.05 inHg), a pressure typical of Category 5 hurricanes. Nonetheless, the pressure remains too high to list Opal as one of the ten strongest Atlantic tropical cyclones. Presently, Hurricane Wilma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, after reaching an intensity of 882 mbar (hPa; 26.05 inHg) in October 2005; this also makes Wilma the strongest tropical cyclone worldwide outside of the West Pacific, where seven tropical cyclones have been recorded to intensify to lower pressures. Preceding Wilma is Hurricane Gilbert, which had also held the record for most intense Atlantic hurricane for 17 years. The 1935 Labor Day hurricane, with a pressure of 892 mbar (hPa; 26.34 inHg), is the third strongest Atlantic hurricane and the strongest documented tropical cyclone prior to 1950. Since the measurements taken during Wilma and Gilbert were documented using dropsonde, this pressure remains the lowest measured over land.
Hurricane Rita is the fourth strongest Atlantic hurricane in terms of barometric pressure and one of three tropical cyclones from 2005 on the list, with the others being Wilma and Katrina at first and sixth, respectively. However, with a barometric pressure of 895 mbar (hPa; 26.43 inHg), Rita is the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes Camille, Mitch, and Dean share intensities for the seventh strongest Atlantic hurricane at 905 mbar (hPa; 26.73 inHg). Sharing tenth place for most intense Atlantic tropical cyclone are Hurricane Ivan and an unnamed hurricane from 1932, which both are listed to have deepened to a pressure as low as 910 mbar (hPa; 26.88 inHg).
Many of the strongest recorded tropical cyclones weakened prior to their eventual landfall or demise. However, three of the storms remained intense enough at landfall to be considered some of the strongest landfalling hurricanes – three of the eleven hurricanes on the list constitute the three most intense Atlantic landfalls in recorded history. The 1935 Labor Day hurricane made landfall at peak intensity, making it the most intense Atlantic landfall. Though it weakened slightly before its eventual landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula, Hurricane Gilbert maintained a pressure of 900 mbar (hPa; 26.58 inHg) at landfall, making its landfall the second strongest. Similarly, Hurricane Dean made landfall on the peninsula, though it did so at peak intensity and with a higher barometric pressure; its landfall marked the third strongest in Atlantic hurricane history.
A hurricane with a peak intensity of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is classified as major. The table on the right excludes seasons prior to 1965 due to lack of accurate data for the period.
‡ These are the fastest estimated recorded speeds of any tropical system (including tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) between 1851 and 2005. It does not include extratropical systems which routinely reach very high forward speeds.
^The first storm of 1938 was the earliest instance of a tropical cyclone reaching tropical storm intensity during the year. However, the 1952 Groundhog Day tropical storm was the earliest instance of a tropical cyclone to have peaked at tropical storm intensity; it did so on February 2.
^Alice formed in December 1954 but persisted into January 1955.
^ abThese are the strongest systems in their respective months by virtue of being the only known systems.
^ abHurricanes Audrey (1957) and Alex (2010) had the same minimum pressure, though Audrey was a Category 4 hurricane at peak strength while Alex peaked as a high-end Category 2.
^All damage figures are in USD amounts of their respective year.
^Chambers, Gillan (December 1999). "Late Hurricanes: a Message for the Regio". Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands. Coast and Beach Stability in the Lesser Antilles. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
^RSMC Nadi – Tropical Cyclone Centre, TCWC Brisbane, TCWC Wellington (May 22, 2009). "TCWC Wellington Best Track Data 1967–2006". Fiji Meteorological Service, Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited, Australian Bureau of Meteorology. United States: International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship.