Florida’s exposure to the warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico makes it especially vulnerable to severe storms and hurricanes. Warm surface water is natural fuel for hurricanes and cause them to grow strong, enduring and destructive.
Florida’s hurricane season, which lasts approximately six months (from June 1 to November 30) can bring about catastrophic damage. Once a hurricane hits land, its impact is multifaceted and manifests as:
While all of Florida is prone to experiencing severe weather, some areas are more susceptible to a direct hurricane strike than others. Generally, cities along the coast are more likely to suffer hurricane damage than inland cities. If you’re a coastal resident or business owner, you should consider investing in a lower hurricane deductible. It would also be worth your time to hurricane proof your home and business.
Typically, the criteria used to establish the level of hurricane vulnerability of a given area include property risk, economic risk (how much money is at risk), geographic location and hurricane frequency (how often storms make landfall or pass over an area).
Southeast Florida’s population density, low elevation and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean makes it particularly susceptible to high hurricane damages. The heavy rain and storm surge that accompanies hurricanes can lead to catastrophic consequences, such as what the area experienced after the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926.
No other place in Florida is as exposed and isolated as the Florida Keys. The islands are at high risk of life-threatening storm surges and are typically avoided by tourists during peak hurricane season (mid-August to mid-September). The most destructive hurricane to ever hit the Florida Keys was 2017’s Hurricane Irma, which was one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in history and devastated many small communities within the archipelago.
Tampa is susceptible to hurricanes mainly due to its bay, which is shallow and can result in a rapid buildup of storm surge that could overwhelm seawalls and draining infrastructure. Luckily, the last time Tampa was severely hit by a hurricane was in 1921 when the Tampa Bay Hurricane, a Category 3 storm, hit the area causing around $29 million in damage.
Southwest Florida is no stranger to tropical storms and hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Irma was the worst hurricane to hit the area, causing severe winds and significant storm surge. Other storms over the past several decades, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005, unleashed significant destructive energy on local communities like Fort Myers Beach and Collier County.
Jacksonville’s close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and population density makes the city extremely vulnerable to property damage. (Although not the biggest metro area in Florida, the nearly one million people living within Jacksonville’s city limits technically makes it the most populous city in Florida.) The city’s lack of an adequate water drainage system is also a big problem, as without an efficient drainage system they city is at risk of extreme flooding.
The Panhandle has been one of the most active centers for severe storm activity in Florida in recent years, suffering a major storm approximately every two years. One of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes to ever hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Michael, which struck the area in the fall of 2018. The Category 5 hurricane caused many Panhandle residents to lose power, with some outages lasting several weeks.
If you live in a part of Florida that’s especially prone to hurricanes, you can take several precautionary steps to stay safe and minimize costly damages to your property: