As Hurricane Maria heads north as a Cat 3 storm, much is being made of the fact that it is the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1928. The implication is that Maria must have been exceptionally strong.
But the reality is that Puerto Rico is little more than a speck in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. The odds of the eye of a major hurricane, often just 10 or 20 miles wide, making a direct hit on Puerto Rico are probably hundreds to one, given that there are thousands of miles of ocean through which hurricanes can commonly travel.
Where a particular hurricane goes is a matter of luck. Puerto Rico has been lucky to have gone nearly 90 years without a hurricane as powerful as Maria. But they were not as lucky back then, as two Cat 4 and 1 Cat 5 hurricanes hit the island in the space of 33 years, as Weather Underground relate:
Maria was the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico, behind only the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two other Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.
The San Felipe Segundo hurricane, also known as the Lake Okeechobee hurricane, was one of the deadliest in history. It hit Puerto Rico as a Cat 5, and left 500,000 homeless.
It then continued on to Florida, leaving thousands dead.
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