Why Is Florida the Hurricane Capital of the United States?

Hurricane Irma Property Damages
The Expensive and Lasting Damages of Hurricane Irma
March 25, 2020
2020 hurricane projections
The 2020 Florida Hurricane Season
March 25, 2020

Why Is Florida the Hurricane Capital of the United States?

Lightning storms in florida - property damage

If you asked most people where the highest frequency of lightning strikes occur in the United States, they may guess mountains or tall buildings. Central Florida usually isn’t the thing that first comes to mind. You may be surprised to learn that the corridor located between Orlando and Tampa has several natural features that make the region a magnet for lightning activity. If you asked most people where the highest frequency of lightning strikes occur in the United States, they may guess mountains or tall buildings. Central Florida usually isn’t the thing that first comes to mind. You may be surprised to learn that the corridor located between Orlando and Tampa has several natural features that make the region a magnet for lightning activity.

The Natural Features that Attract Lightning

Florida’s Shape – The peninsula is surrounded by warm water on both the east and west coast.

The Temperature – Florida residents are familiar with the often-high temperatures and muggy conditions present inland during the day. The upper 80- and 90-degree temperatures of the corridor contrasts with the comparatively cool temperatures over the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Warm air rises, so the air over the land goes up and the cool air over the water sinks. This effect causes the cool air over the ocean and gulf to be sucked inland, which is what causes the refreshing sea breeze effect on both coasts. The sea breeze effect essentially creates a miniaturized cold front every afternoon.

Florida’s Geographic Location – One of the reasons Florida is so warm and humid is its southern location. Although it’s not exactly close to the equator it is further south than the rest of the country, and it shows in the weather, specifically all the moisture in the air.

The cold fronts created by the cool ocean and gulf air being pulled inland brings with them moisture in the form of showers and thunderstorms. The sea-breeze-induced storms occur on both coasts and meet in roughly the middle of the peninsula, which extends the duration and increases the strength of resulting thunderstorms.

If you live in or have visited the corridor between Tampa and Orlando you’re probably familiar with the frequency of these storms, which can be nearly daily during certain parts of the year.

Lightning Safety Tips

For most people, their chance of getting struck by lightning is less than 1 in a million. However, the average person doesn’t live in the lightning capital of the United States. More than 2,000 Floridians have suffered lightning-related injuries over the past five decades. In the U.S. as a whole, lightning kills approximately 30 people a year.

  • Avoid putting yourself at risk by adjusting your plans based on the weather forecast. If thunderstorms are expected in the afternoon, that may not be the best time to schedule a round of golf or tennis.
  • The best thing you can do if you’re caught in a thunderstorm is to get inside an enclosed structure.
  • The CDC recommends following the 30-30 rule. When you see lightning start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you get to 30 you should probably get inside due to the proximity of the storm. They also recommend refraining from outside activities for 30 minutes after the storm has ended just to be extra cautious.
  • You can’t always get to shelter in time. The CDC recommends crouching low and minimize the surface area of your body to the ground to reduce conductivity. Hopefully you don’t find yourself in that situation because squatting that long will probably be uncomfortable.
  • One thing that may be a bit surprising is the danger posed by concrete walls and buildings. Rebar or other metal supports often run through concrete. These metal bars are conductive paths for electricity. This includes cement foundations with metal tension wires running through them. According to the CDC, a third of lightning injuries occur inside structures.
  • Refrain from using phones with cords, as electricity can flow from the phone line, into your home, through the phone and into you. Cell phones or cordless phones are safe to use indoors.
  • Avoid touching electronics. Lightning can travel through electronics and into people who are touching them.
  • Most people know to avoid swimming during a lightning storm, but any water can be potentially dangerous. Lightning can even travel through a building’s plumbing.

Lightning Property Damage Claims in Florida

Was your property damaged by lightning in Florida? Did the lightning strike during a hurricane or tropical storm and you’re having trouble getting the insurance company to treat your claim fairly? A hurricane damage lawyer with experience representing people in lightning damage claims may be able to help you.

Attorneys experienced with hurricanes and lightning strikes should know the ins and outs of these unique claims and can work with you and independent claims adjusters to get an accurate repair estimate and prove the damage should be covered under the terms of your insurance policy.