1. Hurricane

Hurricane Dorian: Six things to know about Category 4 hurricanes.

Dorian is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida. That would make it even more dangerous.
This satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian moving over open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian was expected to grow into a potentially devastating Category 4 hurricane before hitting the U.S. mainland early next week. [AP]
This satellite image shows Hurricane Dorian moving over open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dorian was expected to grow into a potentially devastating Category 4 hurricane before hitting the U.S. mainland early next week. [AP]
Published Aug. 29

Hurricane Dorian is now expected to strengthen into a dangerous Category 4 storm before making landfall along Florida’s east coast early next week.

Dorian was moving northwest through the Atlantic Ocean after pummeling Puerto Rico with rain. It was a Category 1 storm on Thursday afternoon, packing 85 mph sustained winds. Forecasters think it will intensify into a Category 4 storm as it crosses warm waters on its approach to Florida.

Here are some quick facts about Category 4 storms:

• Since 1924, more than 110 storms that formed in the Atlantic Basin, including the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, have strengthened into Category 4 hurricanes. Thirty-four went on to become Category 5s for at least a few hours, including last year’s Hurricane Michael. Most Category 4s occur in September, but monster storms often form in late August and early October, too.

• It’s highly unusual for a hurricane to make landfall as a Category 4 storm in the United States. Only 14 have done it since 1924. (The number rises to 18 if you include the four storms that rolled ashore as Category 5s). Seven storms made landfall in Florida packing Category 4 winds. Three more came ashore in our state as Category 5 storms: the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and Hurricane Michael last year.

• Hurricane Charley in 2004 was one of the most destructive Category 4 storms to hit Florida. It was a fast-moving buzz saw that packed 150 mph winds. It demolished parts of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda and carried enough of a wallop inland to create considerable damage in the Orlando area, including Winter Park. The storm was blamed for 10 deaths and more than $15 billion in damage. In 2017, Hurricane Irma roared ashore in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm and them marched up the state, forcing an estimated 6.5 million people to evacuate.

• Category 4 storms include sustained winds of 130–156 mph, measured 33 feet above the ground. Winds that powerful can easily destroy mobile homes, snap trees and chew the roofs off even the most well-built homes. In 2004, Tampa Bay Times reporters observed Hurricane Charley strip the paint off of a car.

• Don’t think of a Category 4 storm packing 150 mph winds as being twice as strong as a Category 1 with 75 mph winds. The Cat 4 is much, much more powerful. Why? Wind power is exponential. Put another way: The winds from a strong Category 4 storm (156 mph) have the potential to create twice as much damage as a weak Category 4 storm (130 mph).

• Category 4 storms can also create 15 to 20 feet of storm surge. Power can be knocked out for days, and in some cases, weeks or even months. Hurricane experts routinely describe the damage wrought by Cat 4s as "catastrophic."

* This article is an update of a similar list complied by the Times in 2016.

Sources: National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

What Michael taught the Panhandle and Tampa Bay

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind


  1. Hurricane Dorian left homes in ruin in the Bahamas. [FERNANDO LLANO  |  AP]
    The season’s strongest storm, Hurricane Dorian, had Florida in sight but turned north before making landfall. The storm decimated the Bahamas.
  2. The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm moving toward the northeast out to sea. [National Hurricane Center]
    An early morning advisory shows the storm turning toward the northeast.
  3. Tropical storm Sebastien has developed in the Atlantic and now has an 80 percent chance of turning into a tropical cyclone. [National Hurricane Center] [National Hurricane Center]
    Forecasters with the National Weather Service do not expect the storm to threaten land.
  4. Forecasters with the National Weather Service estimate that the system has a 50-percent chance of developing into a tropical or sub-tropical depression during the next 48 hours. [National Weather Service]
    Forecasters with the National Weather Service expect the system to develop into a depression by mid-week.
  5. Mos Antenor, 42, drives a bulldozer while clearing the road after Hurricane Dorian Mclean's Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas on Sept. 13. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) [RAMON ESPINOSA  |  AP]
    The damage estimate comes from a new report by the Inter-American Development Bank.
  6. The projected path of Tropical Storm Olga [National Hurricane Center]
    The storm is expected to merge with a cold front and become post-tropical before impacting Louisiana late tonight.
  7. The low-pressure system in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico has a 60-percent chance of development over the next two to five days. [National Hurricane Center]
    Most models don’t project the system to become anything stronger than a tropical depression. And a short-lived one, at that.
  8. The projected path of Nestor [National Hurricane Center]
    Nestor is expected to dump two to four inches of rain in Tampa Bay, along with the threat of tornadoes.
  9. The projected path for Tropical Storm Nestor, according to the National Hurricane Center. [National Hurricane Center]
    Tampa Bay should expect wind and rain tonight into Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service
  10. The sun sets over a slab which once served as a foundation for a home on Mexico Beach in May. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Area leaders fear lower population numbers will lead to reduced federal funding and political representation.