In a stroke of luck, no major hurricanes rated Category 3 or higher have struck U.S. soil during the past nine years, a new study finds.

This is the country’s longest “hurricane drought” in recorded history, or since 1851, the researchers said. The previous record lull lasted eight years, from 1861 to 1868, they said.

Hurricane Wilma, a hurricane that hit Florida in 2005, was the last Category 3 storm to make landfall in the United States. Other storms — including Hurricane Ike (Category 2, 2008), Hurricane Irene (Category 1, 2011) and Hurricane Sandy (Category 1, 2012) — caused significant damage, but their winds weren’t as strong. [A History of Destruction: 8 Great Hurricanes]

Several storms identified as Category 3 or higher have hit Cuba during the past nine years, but they substantially weakened by the time they reached the United States, the researchers found.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how unusual the string is, and we want to quantify it,” Timothy Hall, the study’s lead author and a hurricane researcher at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, told the American Geophysical Union blog.

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Source: Laura Geggel, Livescience.com (CBSNEWS.com)

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