“I knew it existed,” Trump said. “And I’ve seen some Category 4s. You don’t even see them that much. But a Category 5 is something that, uh, 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.”
Not only has Trump seen the U.S. threatened by Category 5 hurricanes, the strongest classification on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, he’s used nearly the same line before, as CNN’s Daniel Dale pointed out in a tweet.
In September of 2017, it was Hurricane Irma, which raged through the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm before hitting Florida as a Category 4.
One year later, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. But in remarks on the damage it caused, Trump repeatedly referred to Maria as a Category 5 storm. His facts may have been wrong, but clearly he’s heard of a Category 5 hurricane.
Then, in October of 2018, Hurricane Michael became the first Category 5 storm to hit the contiguous United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Though the storm, which laid waste to the Florida Panhandle, was initially thought to be a Category 4 when it made landfall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration later upgraded it to a Category 5.
And Trump was aware of that. This May, he visited Tyndall Air Force Base on the Florida Panhandle and saw firsthand the devastation that Michael caused. “Never heard about Category 5s before,” he said. That was four months ago.