Chorus waves play a key role in outer Van Allen electron belt dynamics through cyclotron resonance. Here, we use Van Allen Probes data to reveal a new and distinct population of intense chorus waves excited in the heart of the radiation belt during the main phase of geomagnetic storms. The power of the waves is typically ~ 2–3 orders of magnitude greater than pre-storm levels, and are generated when fluxes of ~ 10–100 keV electrons approach or exceed the Kennel–Petschek limit. These intense chorus waves rapidly scatter electrons into the loss cone, capping the electron flux to a value close to the limit predicted by Kennel and Petschek over 50 years ago. Our results are crucial for understanding the limits to radiation belt fluxes, with accurate models likely requiring the inclusion of this chorus wave-driven flux-limiting process, that is independent of the acceleration mechanism or source responsible for enhancing the flux.