Florida Hurricane Season: The Least and Most Impacted Areas
Florida's susceptibility to hurricanes is mainly due to its position in the country (southeastern part) and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. As of 1851, the Sunshine State has been hit by 120 hurricanes out of those experienced in the country. It's even been estimated that close to 41 percent of hurricanes recorded in the country make landfall in Florida.
Knowing the state's tiniest and most hurricane-prone areas is essential if you plan to relocate to Florida. You should also have a background on the Florida hurricane season to know what to expect when it begins. Read on for more insights on this topic.
Florida Hurricanes - What You Should Know
Did you know that Florida records the highest number of tropical and subtropical cyclones than any other US state? Since 1851, Florida has only been spared from a hurricane or tropical storm in eighteen hurricane seasons.
The threat hurricanes pose to people is real, especially when the 6-month Atlantic hurricane season (1st June to 30th November) is approaching. The Florida hurricane season usually peaks from mid-August to late October.
During this period, waters in the Gulf of Mexico and equatorial Atlantic are warm enough to lead to the formation of tropical waves.
Why Hurricanes Frequently hit Florida
Hurricanes in the northern hemisphere tend to start in the tropical or subtropical areas and travel from west to northwest, putting Florida at a high risk of being hit.
The water temperatures along the east coast (over 80 degrees) also favor hurricane conditions more than water temperatures on the west coast.
What Happens During a Hurricane?
Serious hazards like tornadoes, storm surges, heavy rains, and high winds are likely to be brought by hurricanes. Hurricane-force winds can cause significant damage to buildings and turn lightweight materials into flying missiles. Consequently, heavy rains usually lead to deadly and destructive floods in the Florida hurricane season.
Storm surges from when the hurricane-force winds cause an unusual rise in water levels. Though tornadoes triggered by hurricane activities are short-lived, they pose a significant threat to human life and the man-made environment.
Most Hurricane-Prone Florida Cities
A peek into the country's worst places for hurricanes will let you discover that Florida has the most hurricane-prone areas on the list.
To be precise, Southeast Florida is more susceptible to storms as areas like Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, and Key West follow. Here are the seven worst Florida cities for a hurricane:
The city of Miami is renowned for most of the country's destructive hurricanes. It was hit by the 1992 Hurricane Andrew, which impacted South Dade. The storm was characterized by solid winds traveling at 165 mph and caused damages worth 30 billion dollars.
HurricaneCity reports that Miami expects to be hit or brushed by a tropical storm every two years. It is also predicted that a hurricane will directly impact the glamourous city every four and a half years.
Fort Lauderdale has taken a spot on this list since the 2005 Hurricane Wilma recently hit it. Before Wilma, Fort Lauderdale was hit by Hurricane Irene in 1999, which caused four fatalities. Hurricane Irene caused light precipitation with a 2.67-inch peak accumulation at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
This city expects to be brushed or hit by a storm every two and a half years. According to hurricane projections, it may also have a direct hurricane effect every six years.
Florida City is widely known as a central agricultural area and suburb in Miami-dade County. As a municipality in the South Florida metro, the city gets hit or brushed by a storm once every two and a half years. It also experiences direct hurricanes every five and a half years.
A record of 17 storms has brushed through Florida City over the years. Back in 2005, Hurricane Katrina was reported to have broken down many trees and caused precipitation of 15 inches in the area. Hurricane Irene also brushed past Florida City at a speed of 85 mph and caused heavy flooding.
Fort Pierce was at the center of the infamous 1928 Fort Pierce hurricane that damaged areas of the Southeastern US and Florida. Category 2 caused damages worth $235,000 and two fatalities.
Hurricane Jean also hit Fort Pierce back in 2004 at 120mph. The storm resulted in tree breaking and several days of power outages.
Fort Pierce is projected to be hit or brushed by a storm once every two and a half years. A direct hurricane is likely to spread toward the city every six years.
Boca Raton is susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms due to its coastal setting. Boca Raton has experienced a record-breaking 27 storms in recent years. The city is projected to experience a direct hurricane every six years.
In 2005, Boca Raton was among the Florida cities that Hurricane Wilma brushed. This category five hurricane was characterized by winds traveling at 105 mph and caused damage to many buildings. Wilma also resulted in damages amounting to $20 billion and 35 fatalities.
Delray Beach felt the impacts of at least ten significant hurricanes in the last century. The city experienced the most hurricane damage in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.
In the 23rd storm of this season, Hurricane Wilma spread into the city with 105mph strong winds that caused significant damage.
Delray Beach gets brushed or hit by a storm every two and a half years. It also experiences the direct impacts of a hurricane once every five years.
Deerfield Beach felt the direct impacts of the 1926 and 1928 major hurricane seasons. As Deerfield was recovering, another high-impact hurricane (Okeechobee Hurricane) driven by 140-mph winds struck.
The Okeechobee Hurricane spread to Lake Okeechobee, drowning close to 2,500 people. It is thus the second most disastrous tropical cyclone in US history.
Deerfield Beach has been at the center of at least 22 named storms. It is projected to be hit or brushed by a storm once in 2 years and a direct hurricane once in five years.
Safest Areas to Live in Florida from Hurricanes
Factors like storm events, storm-related injuries, storm-related property damage, and storm-related fatalities help determine whether a place is less prone to hurricanes.
Here are seven cities to consider: note that the cities suggested on this list aren't 100 percent guaranteed to be free of tropical storms.
Since 1930, Sanford has only experienced 78 hurricanes, making it rank on this list. The city was primarily affected by Hurricane Irene in 1999 and Tropical Storm Debby back in 2012.
Living in this area is 1.1 percent below the country's average, with utilities and healthcare costing less. Sanford boasts plenty of amenities, including towering oaks, brick-lined trees, 19th-century Victorian homes, and elegant storefronts.
The crime rate also stands at 4,313 per 100,000 people, while the median household income ($39,989) is lower than the country's average. In general, Sanford's livability score is higher compared to 65 percent of cities.
Minneola has been hit or brushed by only 72 hurricanes since 1930. It felt the most hurricane damage back in 1964 when Hurricane Dora struck. Tropical Storm Debby is the most recent tropical storm to hit this city.
The town's cost of living is 1.3 percent below the national average, with transportation and utilities having a high price tag. Healthcare costs are lower, while groceries and housing cost the same as in other cities.
The median home value in the town is $145,300, while the median household income stands at $56,787 (which is higher than the country's average). Minneola boasts a crime rate of 984 per 100,000 people, a 86 percent high school graduation rate, and a 95 percent livability score.
With only 77 hurricanes recorded since 1930, Orlando is less susceptible to the impacts of a hurricane. The highest-impact hurricane to hit the city was Hurricane Jeanne, which struck in 2004. Tropical Storm Debby also brushed parts of Orlando back in 2012.
Orlando is home to Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, among the country's most extensive entertainment complexes. The city's $172,100 median home value is significantly lower than the national average but higher than Florida's. Its cost of living is also 0.8 percent lower than the country's average but more expensive compared to other Florida cities.
Crime rates in Orlando total 5,565 per 100,000 people, while the average livability score is higher than 53 percent of the country's cities. Orlando's median household income ($44,007) is 20 percent lower than the country's average.
Leesburg is a city in Central Florida with low hurricane and tropical storm incidences (77 since 1930). The largest hurricane to hit this area was Hurricane David, which struck in 1979, while the most recent storm was the 2013 Tropical Storm Andrea.
With a population of about 22,000 (7.76 percent being ex-pats), Leesburg has a median household income of $35,021. The city's cost of living is also 1.4 percent lower than the country's average. Transportation and housing cost less than the country's average, while health and grocery costs are lower.
It costs an average of $119,100 to buy a house in Leesburg. The crime rate in the area is also 5,806 per 100,000, while the livability score is better than 27 percent of US cities.
Only 76 hurricanes have hit or brushed Kissimmee since 1930, with the most high-impact one being the 2004 Hurricane Francis. Tropical Storm Debby is also the most recent tropical storm to hit the city.
Kissimmee boasts a 70,000-resident population close to Orlando, 24.3 percent being ex-pats. The cost of living in the area is 1.1 percent lower than the country's average, with transportation and utilities costing more.
It will cost you an average of $136,300 to buy a house in the city, which boasts a crime rate of 3,001 per 100,000. Kissimmee's median household income stands at $38,262, while its livability score is higher than 49 percent of the cities.
With only 73 hurricane incidents since 1930, Ocala is a Central Florida city less susceptible to hurricane impacts. The largest hurricane to hit this city was Hurricane Dora back in 1964, while the most recent was the 2013 Hurricane Andrea.
Ocala's cost of living is 7.2 percent lower than the national average, with transportation and housing costing less. Healthcare and grocery costs are also lower than the country's average.
The median home value in this Central Florida city is $120,700, while the median household income stands at $37,792. Ocala's crime rate stands at 4,991 per 100,000 people, while the high school graduation rate is 82 percent.
Since 1930, Lake City has had only 64 hurricane incidences, with the most damaging one occurring in 1933. The most recent storm that hit the area was the 2013 Tropical Storm Andrea.
Lake City's cost of living is 7.2 percent less than the national average, with groceries costing less than in other US cities. Transportation and housing are affordable, while utility and health costs are above the national and state averages.
The median home value in this area currently stands at $100,700, while the median household income stands at $35,385. Lake City also has a crime rate of 7,759 per 100,000 people.
How to Best Prepare for Hurricane
Hurricanes pose numerous threats to property and life, resulting in costly damages. As the Florida hurricane season approaches, now is the ideal time to prepare. Whether you live in a hurricane-prone area or not, here are tips to get you ready and plan:
Understand the Difference Between a Hurricane "Warning" and "Watch"
National Weather Service updates during the hurricane season are usually broadcasted on TV, radio, or even online. The updates may focus on either a hurricane warning or a watch.
A hurricane warning is usually severe since it reports hurricane-force winds projected to flow to a particular area. These alerts come 36 hours before the actual time the storm hits.
On the other hand, a hurricane watch reveals possible hurricane conditions that may present in a specific area. Hurricane watches are broadcasted 48 hours before tropical storm-force winds are projected.
Gather Emergency Supplies
Since a hurricane is likely to disrupt access to essential utilities and amenities, gathering emergency supplies is good. The roads may be inaccessible after the tropical storm due to flooding or water blockage,
Be sure to stock up on essential items like food, water, and medicine. You should also gather power sources (like flashlights), safety items, a fire extinguisher, and essential personal identifying documents.
Get Your Household Ready
If you own a car, keep the gas tank filled and move it to a garage or a safe place. You should also have an emergency kit in the vehicle.
Going over your emergency plan with your household members is also essential. Seek advice from the police, public health department, or hospital if you have a family member with special needs.
Other ways to get your household ready include clearing your yard, covering up windows and doors, and filling water containers. You should also be prepared to switch off the power if the power lines get affected by flooding.
Have an Evacuation Plan
Listen to your local authorities' recommendation on whether to stay at home or evacuate. If you have to evacuate, have your emergency supply kit, unplug appliances, and avoid driving through flooded areas.
Consequently, if you have to stay at home, watch out for more hurricane updates and stay inside until the weather is calm. Check if your insurance policy offers adequate cover for the unexpected living expenses brought by a hurricane.
Hurricanes are considered severe tropical storms that occur over warm ocean waters. When they strike, they lead to damages worth billions of dollars and fatalities.
Florida has a high hurricane incident rate in the country since it lies near the tropics, where westerly winds from the African coasts blow to. As the Florida hurricane season approaches, learning about the most minor and most hurricane-impacted areas can help you choose a convenient place to live.