Trump claims he’s never heard of a Category 5 hurricane — but 4 storms of that intensity have threatened the US under his presidency

President Donald Trump speaks at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

  • President Donald Trump on Sunday said he is not sure he has “ever even heard of a Category 5” hurricane, despite the fact that four storms of that intensity have threatened the US since he took office. 
  • “I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed,” he said during a Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) briefing. “But a Category 5 is something that — I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there.” 
  • Four storms that were at some point designated a Category 5 have threatened the US or its territories since Trump took office: Irma in 2017, Maria in 2017, Michael in 2018, and the current storm, Dorian.
  • Dorian slammed into the island of Great Abaco on Sunday with wind gusts of up to 220 mph, causing major devastation. It is slowly moving west towards the Florida coastline at speeds of 5 mph. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he is not sure he has “ever even heard of a Category 5” hurricane, despite the fact that four storms of that classification having threatened the US or its territories under his presidency. 

Trump received a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) headquarters in Washington D.C. on Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that has already devastated the Bahamas and is slowly approaching America’s southeastern coastline with sustained winds of 185 mph as of Sunday evening. 

During his briefing, Trump described Dorian as “very, very powerful” and said the storm would be “one of the biggest hurricanes that we’ve ever seen.”

“We don’t even know what’s coming at us,” he said. “All we know is it’s possibly the biggest. I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some Category 4’s — you don’t even see them that much.

“But a Category 5 is something that — I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there. That’s the ultimate, and that’s what we have, unfortunately.”

CNN reporter Daniel Dale fact-checked Trump’s claims and found that he had made similar statements on the existence of Category 5 storms on several occasions since he took office. 

 

“I never even knew a Category 5 existed,” he said on September 14, 2017, just days after Hurricane Irma — a Category 5 storm that battered parts of the Caribbean islands before weakening to a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in the Florida Keys.

Later in September, Hurricane Maria devastated parts of Dominica, the US Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico. The Category 5 storm which weakened to a Category 4 when it hit Puerto Rico left nearly 3,000 people dead, and the US territory is still recovering from the devastating impacts of the natural disaster. 

“So we’ve never seen it,” Trump said on September 26, 2017 about Maria’s impact. “It actually touched down as a Category 5. People have never seen anything like that.”

In October 2017, Trump reiterated claims that Category 5 storms were inconceivable, stating that “nobody has ever heard of a 5 hitting land.”

And in May 2019, months after Category 5 Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida panhandle, Trump told the crowd at a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Florida that he had “never heard about Category 5’s before.” 

“A Category 5 is big stuff,” he said. 

Dorian is the fourth Category 5 storm to threaten the US under Trump 

Hurricane Michael

Four Category 5 storms have actually threatened the US since the beginning of his presidency — Irma in 2017, Maria in 2017, Michael in 2018, and Dorian, which is slowly headed toward the Florida coast but may not actually make landfall in the state, according to AccuWeather forecasts as of 10 p.m. Eastern Time. 

AccuWeather predicts that Dorian may still cause damage to eastern parts of Florida even if the storm does not directly hit the coastline.

Read more: I’ve been through the eye of a Category 4 hurricane — here are 7 things you should do to protect your money before and after

Changes to Dorian’s strength are expected through Monday depending on the position and conditions inside the eye of the storm. 

worst hurricanes in US history, accuweather chart

The US has experienced several destructive hurricanes in recent years, most recently Michael, which made landfall in Florida on October 10, 2018 with wind speeds of 160 mph. 

Dorian slammed into the island of Great Abaco on Sunday with wind gusts of up to 220 mph, causing major devastation. 

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) called the storm “catastrophic” as it battered Great Abaco and the Grand Bahama Island, and issued a storm surge warning for parts of Florida, including Lantana to the Volusia/Brevard County line as of 8 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This dog goalie holds 3 Guinness World Records