PUERTO RICO (WNCN) – Hurricane Fiona has been devastating Puerto Rico throughout the weekend as it strengthened from a tropical storm into a Category 1 hurricane before striking the island.

As Puerto Rico deals with significant impacts from Fiona and braces for potential landslides, just five years ago it experienced something similar when Hurricane Maria barreled in.

While the landfall dates are close on the calendar, the two storms are very different.

While Fiona made landfall on Sept. 17, Maria made landfall early in the morning on Sept. 20, 2017.

Maria was a strong Category 4 with winds sustained at 155 miles per hour at the time of landfall. It was the second strongest hurricane to ever hit Puerto Rico and the strongest in recent history.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona was a Category 1 with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour at landfall, significantly weaker than Maria. 

Fiona is, unfortunately, an example of why we shouldn’t just focus on the category of a storm, but all the impacts it could bring.

Preliminary estimates have parts of Puerto Rico receiving more than 17 inches of rain, and isolated totals of more than 20 inches, and it’s still raining.

While Fiona is a weaker storm, the impacts are still significant. It’s also a reminder of what can be deadliest in a tropical system.

“Rainfall and surge flooding is the number one killer in storms, it’s not the wind,” Jonathan Zawislak said, a hurricane scientist at the University of Miami and NOAA.

“Our challenge as forecasters, as researchers, is to learn how to communicate those hazards better, so our communities aren’t just looking at the wind speeds, they’re looking at the complete package of what kind of impacts they may experience in a community,” he said.

It’s easy for us to compare storms but remember, each storm is very different, and it only takes one, no matter how strong, to have a major impact.