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Hurricane Season – An Historical Perspective

August 22, 2012 Florida Keys Lifestyle

Here we are once again in the “thick” of hurricane season which runs from June 1st through November 30th every year.  I know we’re in the thick of it because we’re squarely in the “cone of probability” of Hurricane Isaac. It’s too soon to get out the hurricane shutters, but it does make me reflect on hurricane seasons past.

Over the years the main thing I’ve learned is stay informed, but not too much.  What I mean by that is don’t watch all the media “hype.”  You can’t stick your head in the sand, but you don’t have to watch every weather report on every station or every computer site on the planet.  Be prepared, have your plan, adequate insurance and remember it’s beyond your control anyway.

Tropical cyclones have effected Florida in every  month of the year except for January & March.  One third of storms affect Florida in the month of September, which historically is the peak of the season. The first tropical cyclone to effect the state occurred in 1523, according to shipping records.  The earliest storm to affect Florida was the 1952 Groundhog Day Tropical Storm and the latest was a hurricane that made landfall on December 1, 1925 before they started naming storms. 

Here are a few interesting facts:  the deadliest hurricane on record is the 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas as a category 4 hurricane striking the area with 140 mph winds and killing 8,000 people.   The costliest hurricane on record was Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with winds of about 165 mph hitting the southern Miami-Dade County area in Florida. (Andrew was originally estimated as a Category 4 windstorm, but an instrument developed in 1997 caused NOAA to increase its guesstimate of wind speed at landfall.)

Hurricane Andrew from space

The most intense hurricane to hit the US – and the Florida Keys – was the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. More than 400 lives were lost – though some estimates put it closer to 1,000. And more than 40 miles of the FEC railroad bed was destroyed, spelling the end of Flagler’s Railway to the Sea service to the Florida Keys and Key West. 

hurricane derails train

On average, two major hurricanes (Catagory 3-5) strike the US every 3 years. After all those years though, it does seem like every storm is coming right at your house… where ever you live along the coast of the U.S.  If you live on the shoreline of the U.S. you know what I’m talking about.  But realistically, if the eye of the storm does not come within 100 miles of your house, you’ll probably have rain and some wind and think about it, 100 miles in the broad Atlantic Ocean is just a drop in the bucket! 

So, how was your hurricane knowledge? Learn anything new? November 30th will be here soon… it’s just another summer.  

For more information here are a few sites: NOAA or www.keyshistory.org/hurricanelist.html

Warm regards from the Keys, Paul