Patricia? U.S. Has Now Gone Record 120 Months Without a Major Hurricane Strike

By Barbara Hollingsworth | October 26, 2015 | 10:55 AM EDT

Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever reported at sea, missed the U.S., but slammed into western Mexico on Oct. 23, 2015. (NASA/AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Even as the remnants of historically powerful Hurricane Patricia dropped heavy rains on Texas on Saturday, the United States marked the completion of a record 120 straight months since the last major hurricane (Category 3 or above) made landfall in the continental United States.

The last major hurricane to make landfall on the continental United States was Hurricane Wilma, which hit Florida on October 24, 2005.

On Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center had reported that Patricia, at that point was “the strongest hurricane on record in the National Hurricane Center's area of responsibility (AOR) which includes the Atlantic and the eastern North Pacific basins.”

However, Patricia weakened and dropped below hurricane force after it made landfall on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

The decade-long major hurricane drought is the longest such hiatus dating back to 1851, according to records kept by NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division (HRC).

The 2005 hurricane season was particularly harsh one. That year, “nearly 4,000 people lost their lives and there was nearly $160 billion in damage,” NOAA said in a statement marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the last major hurricanes to strike the U.S.

Wilma “is the last major hurricane to strike the U.S.--an unprecedented stretch that could unfortunately lead to ‘hurricane amnesia’ for the destruction such a hurricane can cause,” NOAA noted.

According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, major hurricanes classified as Category 3 or above have sustained wind speeds of more than 111 miles per hour and are capable of causing “devastating” or “catastrophic” damage.

Since 1851, three catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes – defined as having a maximum sustained wind speed of over 157 miles per hour – have made landfall in the U.S.: the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys, Camille in 1969, and Andrew in 1992.

Related: Joaquin Veers Offshore, Leaving Major Hurricane Drought Record Intact at 3,633 Days

Related: NOAA: Hurricane Drought Hits Record 119 Months