Obama: First President in 122 Years Without a Major Hurricane During His Term

Kathleen Brown | July 24, 2015 | 5:46pm EDT
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(AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) — President Obama is the first president in 122 years without a major hurricane — defined as Category 3 or above — making landfall in the United States during his term of office, according to 2015 data from the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA’s records include all hurricanes since 1851, when Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of the United States, was in office.

The last president whose term of office did not include a major hurricane striking the U.S. mainland was Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States, who served from March 4, 1889 to March 4, 1893.

Since Fillmore, only five presidents have served terms without major hurricanes making U.S. landfall: Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield (who served only six months prior to his assassination), Benjamin Harrison, and Barack Obama.

On May 28, 2015, almost 10 years into the current record-holding hurricane hiatus, Obama toured the National Hurricane Center, where he stated: “The best climate scientists in the world are telling us that extreme weather events like hurricanes are likely to become more powerful. When you combine stronger storms with rising seas, that’s a recipe for more devastating floods.”

But Obama’s time in office thus far coincides with the ongoing record for longest time since a major hurricane has made U.S. landfall.

Earlier this month, CNSNews.com reported that July 24 marks the official 117-month record since Hurricane Wilma — the most recent major U.S. hurricane — struck North Carolina at Category 3 strength on October 24, 2005.

Hurricane season started June 1, and ends November 30.

While the average number of all hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. per presidency is about nine, Obama’s presidency has seen only four hurricanes total.

The presidencies of Grover Cleveland and Franklin Delano Roosevelt hold the record for most hurricanes, with 26 and 25 hurricanes respectively.

Presidents Lincoln and Johnson served consecutively during the second longest time period between a major hurricane strike — the 109 months between August 1860 and September 1869.

NOAA uses the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) as a criterion for categorizing the strength of hurricanes since 1851. Although the scale was developed in 1969 and NOAA’s measurement capabilities have improved over time, the agency is able to assign prior hurricanes categories based on historical wind and pressure measurements.

According to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, Category 1 storms produce “some damage” with sustained winds between 74 and 95 mph, while Category 2 storms cause “extensive damage” with winds between 91 and 110 mph.

While all hurricanes are capable of substantial damage and loss of life, Category 3, 4, and 5 storms are considered “major” because of sustained winds of 111-129 mph, 130-156 mph, and 157 mph and above, respectively.

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