Florida’s hurricane history and how to be prepared

Back to Article
Back to Article

Florida’s hurricane history and how to be prepared

Noah Quillan, Editor-In-Chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

By: Noah Quillan, Editor-In-Chief

Florida has been hit and impacted by the most hurricanes out of all US states. Some of the most well-known and devastating hurricanes to strike Florida include Hurricane Andrew in 1992, followed by Charley, Ivan, Frances, and Jeanne in 2004, Wilma in 2005, Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018. All of these have caused significant damage, such as catastrophic flooding, storm surge, and wind. Some of these systems have made Floridians more aware of the seriousness of natures beasts’.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. The peak of the season is typically in September, but powerful hurricanes can strike at any given point during the entire six month period, and sometimes shortly before or after that time.

Anna Maria Island Pier took relatively significant damage in the wake of Hurricane Irma in 2017. Photo credit: Islander.org

For the newer generation, Hurricane Irma and Michael come to the minds of many. These were both catastrophic hurricanes, and will never be forgotten. The most recent hurricane, Michael, became an intense category four, being extremely close to category five strength. Michael was the third strongest hurricane to hit the United States in recorded history in terms of pressure, measuring 919 millibars. Though Irma did not top the list for strongest, it made the list for being one of the costliest hurricanes of all time. Hurricane Irma was the fifth most costliest hurricane in history, with estimates being upwards of 50 million dollars.

Meteorologists had trouble predicting Irma and Michael’s forecast, which is just another reason to expect the worst when it comes to hurricanes. With Hurricane Irma, meteorologists had a hard time predicting the track and when the system would turn. There were a lot of complicated weather systems going on at the time, so predicting when Irma would make its northward turn became tedious. Initially, it was predicted to impact the east coast of Florida more, however, it was pushed slightly more west, and so it affected the west coast significantly more. With Michael, meteorologists struggled to forecast the intensity. While the National Hurricane Center predicted a high end tropical storm, to low end category one hurricane to hit the panhandle, forecast models were showing a system that would be significantly stronger, and it took several days for the NHC to catch on and update their intensity track. When Michael made landfall, it was an intense category four, reaching winds of 155 mph.

Everyone that can potentially be impacted by a hurricane should always have a hurricane preparedness kit ready in their house and a plan in case one was to head towards them. A hurricane kit should contain water, food, batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, a whistle, dust mask, a wrench or pliers, manual can opener, local maps and a cell phone with portable chargers that are charged. All of these items are essential and cover the bases for a number of basic living elements.

The most cases of death from a hurricane result from storm surge. According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, storm surge is the abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm, measured as the height of the water above the normal predicted astronomical tide. The surge is caused primarily by a storm’s winds pushing water onshore. This can be catastrophic to not only coastal communities, but also inland areas, depending on how bad the storm surge is. Sometimes the surge is so powerful that it is nearly impossible to escape, which is why most coastal locations get evacuated first.

Whether a tropical system is 70 mph, or 150 mph, a series of effects can cause immense damage and can take the lives of many if people do not heed the warnings and take all of the necessary precautions to prepare ahead of time. Doing all of this may not only save peoples lives, but also will help spread the word to make aware of how powerful and deadly these storms can be. As meteorologists like to put it, run from water and hide from wind.