Size matters…or does it?
Like the people the/re named after, hurricanes vary tremendously. They're actually little correlation between the size of a tropical cyclone and its strength. Some of the most destructive and powerful hurricanes are relatively small, and there have been numerous big, lumbering systems that packed little punch.The core of Hivrkane Andrew, which ravaged south Florida in 1992, could fit snugly within the large eye of Hugo, another multi-billion dollar storm that struck South Carolina in 1989. The most intense US hurricane at landfall was the Labor Day storm of 1935, which moved across the Florida Keys and killed over 400 people. As strong as it was – its winds probably exceeded 250kph/155mph – the Labor Day storm was a tiny affair. So was Tracy, which virtually destroyed the Australian city of Darwin on Christmas Day 1974. The true Godzilla of tropical cyclones was 1979b Typhoon Tip, which was gigantic as well as powerful. At Tip/s heart was the lowest barometric pressure ever measured at sea level (870 millibars, or about 25.70 inches) with fierce winds to match. Tip produced tropical-storm gales across an enormous width of 1100km/680 miles. For all its strength and size, Tip moved fairly harmlessly across the western Pacific, brushing near Japan while in a far weakened state. Hurricane Gilbert, which churned across the Gulf of Mexico in 1988, was another behemoth, with the lowest pressure ever observed in the Atlantic basin and a giant circulation to boot. Gilbert weakened before its two landfalls, lessening its damage to the Yucatan peninsula and the northeast Mexican coast.