Florida Hurricanes

Florida Hurricanes

In the US, Florida is a state where majority of the storms have hit. The cyclones have caused a total death count of 10,272 people in Florida and the damage of the storms had been $115 billion. Florida is affected by the Tropical cyclones in almost all the months in a year except January and March. Almost one-third of the total cyclones hit the state in the month of September and around three-fourth of storms hit the state between October and August and that are the top of the hurricane season.

Pre-1900
The first ever cyclone that hit Florida was in the year 1523 when around two ships along with their crews went missing in the western coastline. Prior to 1900, around 159 hurricanes have been reported affect the state that caused a total of 6,504 casualties and damage of $90 million.

1900-1949
In the period of 1900 to 1949, around 108 cyclones hit the state that resulted in $4 billion of damage. These cyclones in Florida caused around 3,500 fatalities in that period. Most of the damage was done by the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. In the 1947 season, there were majority of the hurricanes affecting the state comprising of total 6 systems.

The strongest and the most powerful hurricane to hit was the Labor Day Hurricane in the year 1935. It is the strongest ever hurricane in the history of US.

1950-1974
In the period of 1950 to 1974, almost 85 tropical cyclones affected the state and caused a damage of $6.2 billion resulting primarily from Dora and Donna Hurricanes. Moreover, the storms were even responsible for 93 casualties and around 23 deaths.

1975-1999
In this period, 83 tropical cyclones hit the state causing a damage of $45 billion resulting mainly from the Hurricane Andrew and causing around 54 casualties. In the year 1985 season, there were most of the hurricanes that took place comprising a system of 8 systems.

2000 to present
From 2000 to present date is marked by various destroying North Atlantic hurricanes until 2013. In this period, around 63 tropical cyclones have hit the state causing a damage of $64 billion damage. Moreover, the cyclones in Florida caused 69 casualties and 80 indirect casualties. Around eight cyclones affected the state in 2005 and 2003. In this period, the strongest Hurricane to take place was the Hurricane Charley.Hurricanes can affect financially all industries for example impact of Hurricane Sandy has affected cosmetic giants Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder – postponing the release of their financial results led to a decrease in share prices.

 

Understanding the Different Categories of Hurricanes

The the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale is used to determine the category of a hurricane occurring. This scale applies only to hurricanes forming in the northern Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean, east of the International Date Line. This scale describes what are the different categories of hurricanes, and it was used to label the strength level of the many hurricanes that have affected the U.S. state of Florida in recent decades.

On August 25, 2005, Hurricane Katrina reached landfall, and although it was only a category one hurricane, it caused over $500 million worth of damage to southern Florida, and caused the deaths of twelve people. A category one hurricane creates very dangerous winds and can be damaging to less sturdy or grounded structures on land. This type of storm can be cause flooding, power outages, and even be life-threatening.

A category two hurricane is characterized by being extremely dangerous and will cause very extensive damage on land. Trees can be uprooted by this type of storm. Mobile homes can be destroyed. Doors and windows are susceptible to being damaged or ripped from buildings by the wind. In 1995, Hurricane Erin which affected the state of Florida was a category two hurricane. This storm hit Florida first at a category one level, then hit again the next at a category two level. This storm continued to cause damage on land the following day.

A hurricane rated a category three can cause devastation on land. The effects of this type of hurricane are similar to that of a category two, only even more severe in the level of damage to buildings and other structures on land. Near the coast, many structures may be completely destroyed. Many trees are often snapped or uprooted which can block roads and leave people trapped in certain areas.

A category four hurricane is similar to a category three, but with even more extreme results. Manufactured homes are often flattened. Most trees touched by the storm are torn out of the ground. Long periods of electrical and running tap water sources may be unavailable for weeks to follow.

Lastly, a category five hurricane is the strongest, most damaging type on this scale. These storms can create roof failure even on strongly structured buildings. Walls of homes can collapse from wind and rain pressure. Major flooding is created, and often an evacuation must happen to keep the people in the storm’s way safe from harm. Hurricane Andrew which hit Florida in 1992 was a category five. The storm caused 65 fatalities and was one of the costliest hurricanes in American history due to the high level of damage it caused.

In 1960 Hurricane Donna Proves Deadly

In the summer of 1960, Hurricane Donna ravished Florida and the surrounding areas. Even before she was upgraded to the status of a hurricane, she claimed more then 60 lives and the death toll just kept rising the stronger she got. On August 29th south of Cape Verde Donna grew from a tropical wave that brought down a plane near Senegal. She quickly reached hurricane status not three days later. By the 4th of September she reached to Category 5 strength. Before she even reached Florida, Hurricane Donna claimed an additional 126 lives.

Hurricane Donna made landfall near Marathon, Florida on the morning of September 10 1960. With wind speeds over 130 miles per hour (MPH), Donna pounded the Florida coast causing wide spread damage. Catastrophic coastal flooding damaged and destroyed nearly three quarters of coastal property and half of inland buildings experienced damage as well. As if the loss of homes and businesses wasn’t enough, Florida also lost most of its crops to Hurricane Donna. Florida’s oranges, tangerines, avocados and grapefruit experienced the most destruction. While over Florida, Donna weakened to a Category 2 but not before killing 13 people and causing $300 million in damages.

She reentered the Atlantic on the north edge of Florida leaving massive destruction in her wake. But she wasn’t done yet. Hurricane Donna made landfall twice more. Once in North Carolina on September 12th where her effects could be felt as far as 50 miles inland. Before she had moved on, Donna caused over 100 injuries, 8 deaths and major property damage. Later that same day, she kissed the New York coast, bringing with her yet more damages before burning herself out the following day.

Through the course of her 17 day reign she ravished the coast bringing with her nearly $900 million in property damages and taking the lives of an estimated 365 people. She was the first major Hurricane of the 1960 season with top wind speeds reaching 160 MPH and changed the coastal communities forever.

Hurricane Wilma

Prior to 2005, Florida had never seen the likes of Hurricane Wilma. This hurricane is recorded as the most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Basin. Wilma was a category five hurricane and packed wind speeds of up to 185 mph. The hurricane started out as a tropical depression on October 15, 2005 before later developing into a tropical storm. It became a hurricane on October 18 and dissipated on October 25.
Hurricane Wilma made landfall in Florida as a category 3 hurricane with wind speeds measuring 150 mph. It however weakened to a category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph as it crossed the state. Residents of Florida Keys were issued with a mandatory evacuation. Evacuees were sheltered at Florida International University.
Wilma caused widespread destruction and disruption across Florida. Schools, County offices and courts were closed on October 24. Power outages and damages to some schools resulted in closure for two weeks. Hockey and football games were rescheduled and a concert that was slated for October 24 was cancelled.
Florida’s sugar cane industry received a major blow as Hurricane Wilma wreaked havoc on cane fields across the state. The citrus industry was also severely affected. Citrus production in Florida fell to its lowest in years and was attributed to a citrus canker that spread like wild wife following the passage of Wilma.Floods and winds caused extensive damage across the state. Water and power systems were critically damaged too. As a result, more than 3 million consumers of Florida Power and Light lost power. Some residents had no water for two days.
Apart from Florida, Hurricane Wilma unleashed her fury on several other territories including Jamaica, Cuba, Honduras and the Yucatan Peninsula. A total of 62 fatalities were reported across the territories. Of that number, five of them were from Florida. Hurricane Wilma cost the United States $21 billion in damages and is listed in the top 5 costliest hurricanes of all time.

Hurricane Opal

On September 11th, 1995 a tropical wave off the western coast of Africa was picked up by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Little did these scientist know that this relatively low air pressure that runs north to south yet moves from east to west would become the eleventh tropical storm to reach Hurricane winds that year. No one could predict that in a season that had already seen 18 named storms, another leviathan would rage the United States’ Gulf Coast, demanding more than 100,000 people to evacuate and rushing 40,000 others to temporary housing with the Red Cross shelters.
This wave which usually causes only areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms combined with another broad area of low pressure in the Caribbean. This strengthened the system to be classified as a Tropical Depression on September 27th. The rainfall from this depression and the cooling effects of the water almost dissipated Opal enough to be harmless. However, Opal quickly intensified to a Category 4 Hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph.
When she hit land on October 4th, Opal was still a powerful 125 mph whirling category 3. Opal was officially a hurricane for twelve hours. Starting at Santa Rosa Island, Florida sweeping its way north through Alabama. She wasn’t downgraded to a depression until she it Ohio. So, her tropical storm winds raged for twelve more hours as she moved to the cooler air of the north.
The remnants of Opal required wind and gale warnings to be issued as far north as Ontario on October 5. This leftover system actually necessitated a gale warning for Nova Scotia.
A total of 63 people died in events related to the storm from Central America into New England. $3.5 billion in damage, much of which took place in the United States can be attributed to Opal. She was so powerful, the name Opal was retired in 1996 as a testament to her capacity for destruction.

Hurricane King of 1950

Many people reading this are likely not old enough to remember Hurricane King hitting Florida during the hurricane season of 1950.  That active hurricane season saw King as the 11th and last of the major hurricanes that formed that season.

When Hurricane King hit Florida in 1950, it took the state by surprise.  Because of the size and speed of the hurricane, it was considered by the weather bureau to be the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since the great 1926 hurricane that hit Miami.

150 mph winds were recorded by the weather bureau in Miami as the eye passed over the city.  Because a weather alert had been posted 18 hours before the storm hit, many people had evacuated, but the nature of these warnings in the day were never so serious.  As a result, many residents did not properly prepare their homes and businesses for the massive strength of the hurricane.  This caused massive damages in the area that became apparent as the hurricane passed through.

At the time, the hurricane caused about $30 million dollars in damage.  When accounting for inflation, a storm of this size would cause about $2.8 billion in damage.  The storm even made its way into Georgia and struck the southern town of Valdosta quite hard before dissipating.

Because of weather warnings, there were only four deaths caused by Hurricane King, but it was amongst the last major storms to be named under the old phonetical alphabet system that was used by the United States.  A few years later, the system was dropped in favor of female names that worked on a rotating cycle.

Hurricane King may not be a familiar name to many, but it ravaged the state in ways that only the hurricanes of the 90s and 2000s would in the future.  While it took few lives, it raised awareness to major Atlantic storms in the U.S.

Hurricane Ivan

Hurricane Ivan is one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit Florida. It is recorded as the 10th most intense hurricane with speeds of 165 mph and wave heights of 131 ft. The hurricane formed on the September 2, 2004 and dissipated by September 24, 2004. Ivan started out as a category 3 hurricane and caused widespread damage in the Caribbean islands before developing into a category 5 and an extra-tropical cyclone.

Ivan made landfall in the U.S mainland on September 16. When it hit Florida, it had winds close to 130 mph. Ivan weakened on September 18 and became a tropical depression. However, by September 20, it reorganized and regained its tropical depression status as it moved across the Northern Gulf of Mexico.On September 10, the state of Florida began a full evacuation of the Florida Keys but it was aborted three days later. In addition, a declaration of voluntary evacuation was made for ten counties along the Florida Panhandle. Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia were the counties that had the strongest emphasis for evacuation.
Ivan caused widespread devastation in all the locations that it hit. Seven islands in the Caribbean and four states in the U.S. tasted the fury of the storm. When the hurricane subsided, there were a total of 91 recorded fatalities. Fourteen of those fatalities were recorded in Florida. Navarre Beach, Pensacola Beach, Pensacola and Gulf Breeze recorded heavy damages. Several boats at the Bayou Grande Marina at NAS Pensacola sank. The other boats that didn’t sink were stacked on top of each other. The Escambia Bay Bridge in Intersate 10 as well as U.S Highway 90 suffered severe damages.
Hurricane Ivan also triggered 119 tornadoes across America. One of the tornadoes caused widespread damage in Panama Beach, Blountstown and Marianna. The storm cost the United States approximately $13 billion in damages. Ivan is currently listed as the third costliest hurricanes for the country.

Hurricane Elena

Hurricane Elena was a devastating and unpredictable tropical cyclone that struck between southwestern Florida and eastern Louisiana in August and September 1985. The hurricanes unpredictable nature lead to wide scale evacuations, considered to be the largest in the nation’s history, with some residents and tourists forced to leave twice in the space of a few days.
The hurricane’s origins can be traced as far away as Africa where an easterly tropical wave was identified and then proceeded to speed westwards across the Atlantic. When the wave reached North America it was upgraded to a tropical depression which hit Cuba. Upon reaching Cuba, it was found to have winds in excess of 50 mph near the center and in light of this it was upgraded again, this time to Hurricane Elena.
Upon reaching the Gulf of Mexico, it was predicted that the category one hurricane would continue on its path hitting the area between New Orleans, Louisiana, Biloxi and Mississippi. This caused for hurricane warnings to be issued and a state of emergency to be declared in these states and lead to nearly one million people fleeing the path of the storm.
However, Hurricane Elena turned east and began a new course, heading straight for the coast of northwest Florida. Upon hearing this it lead to the evacuation of people south of Tampa, affecting over half a million people, while the people who originally fled from Louisiana and the other westerly states returned home.Hurricane Elena was now predicted to continue on an eastward path across Florida, however, once again it showed its unpredictability and veered back westward causing the re-evacuation of the westerly states as far as Louisiana.
The hurricane produced widespread devastation with winds of 111 mph or greater recorded in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. It destroyed hundreds of single family homes, with up to 17,000 recording some type of damage. Nine people’s deaths were attributed to the hurricane and as many as 134 people were hospitalized.
Hurricane Elena is remembered mainly for its unpredictability and the widespread evacuations it caused. The name Elena was retired from the list of Atlantic hurricane names in 1986 and will never be used for an Atlantic hurricane again.

Hurricane Eloise in 1975

As the second major hurricane of the 1975 season, Hurricane Eloise caused a number of deaths and millions in damages. She started out as a tropical depression on September 13, 1975 just east of the Virgin Islands. Eloise grew to a tropical storm as she passed Puerto Rico and made landfall at Hispaniola. She weakened over the Caribbean Sea, touched the Yucatan Peninsula and headed north into the Gulf of Mexico. On September 23, 1975 Hurricane Eloise grew to a Category 3 hurricane and made landfall west of Panama City along the Florida Panhandle before dissipating on September 24th just nine days after her formation.

With winds reaching up to 155 miles per hour (MPH), Hurricane Eloise left absolute destruction in her wake. The main cause of damages and fatalities wasn’t her wind speed, but the volume of rain she dumped on the land. The combination of rain, storm surge and flash flooding devastated the entire eastern coast. Wind damages reached as far inland as Alabama and Georgia. Coastal communities were all but wiped out by high flood waters and ragging winds. The destruction devastated beaches, tore piers apart and left thousands homeless.

Before reaching the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, Hurricane Eloise caused over 40 deaths and millions in damages to island areas. Once in the Gulf, millions more in damages were experienced along with the lose of 17 more lives. Before she made landfall, nearly 100,000 people were evacuated so the loss of life wasn’t nearly as catastrophic as it could of been. Over the course of Hurricane Eloise, over 80 people died as a direct result of the flooding, and strong winds. She caused nearly $560 million in damages and left thousands homeless and without jobs. The name Eloise has since been removed from the list of hurricane names due to the extent of the damage and the number of people who died.

Hurricane Easy – One of The Worst Storms To Ever Hit Florida

Hurricane Easy was a violent storm which struck the state of Florida in 1950. The memorable hurricane developed in the western Caribbean Sea before cruising with immense strength and speed right to the Gulf of Mexico where it reached a peak speed of 125 mph. In a powerful cyclonic loop, the massive storm suddenly adopted a northeasterly direction heading towards Cedar Key in Florida.

Hurricane Easy In Florida
Although the storm had gradually weakened (slowed down to just over 100 mph) by the time it hit parts Florida, its direct effects remained for a couple of days. Immense rainfalls and hefty waves resulted to serious damage in the Cedar Key region. Meteorologist said that Cedar Key experienced what is professionally known as the eye of the hurricane for some 2 hours or so. The highest rainfall totals reported in the northwestern part of Florida at that time were 983 mm – recorded in Yankeetown in just over 24 hours. This is so far one of the heaviest downpour sessions ever recorded in the United States in 24 hours.

Massive damage caused
The huge storm and heavy rainfall spells that accompanied it resulted in massive damage to crops. Two people reportedly lost their lives due electrocutions which was one of the many indirect effects of Easy’s destructive force. 27 other people were badly injured as the strong waves found their way to the heart of a fishing community that lived nearby.

Final word
Hundreds of cars were also badly damaged. Other areas that bore the brunt of Hurricane easy include Tampa, Hillsborough counties and Pinellas. According to government record, the destructive power of Hurricane easy led to losses to the tune of $3.3 million (1950 statistics). According to meteorological data, Hurricane Easy was among the most volatile storms to strike the United States during the infamous 1950 Atlantic hurricane season. Some of its effects are felt to-date.

Further references
http://www.floridadisaster.org/kids/hurricanes.htm
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/tbw/paig/PresAmHurricane1950.pdf

http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/atlantic/1952/Hurricane-Easy

 

Hurricane Dennis

Hurricane Dennis was the first major storm of hurricane force winds of the unusually active season of 2005. In July of that 2005, Dennis set landmark records for early season hurricanes in activity and became the strongest storm in the Atlantic to ever form before August.
Dennis formed in the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical depression four in the Caribbean on July 5th. Almost immediately, Grenada was hit with a 30 mile per hour tropical depression. It seemed that Dennis preferred land, however. Dennis became a Category four major hurricane, the earliest in the hurricane season since Audrey in 1957 .
It hit Cuba as twice as a category four before rapidly intensifying on the afternoon of July 9 over the Gulf Loop Current. This over achiever had become the quickest developing storm in the Gulf for nearly half a century again. He just kept growing.
This insanely strengthening hurricane moved north-northwest towards the central Gulf Coast to make landfall between Pensacola, Florida, and Navarre Beach, Florida at Santa Rosa Island, July 10th, 2:25 pm. Much like Ivan who hit the same stretch of land a year before, Dennis dropped wind speed right before landfall. he went from sustained winds of 14 miles per hour to 125 mph.
This officially categorized Dennis as a three when he hit the U.S. Official wind speeds were reported at there highest at 121 miles per hour wind gust on Navarre Beach. Hurricane warnings were in effect in the U.S. for the Florida Panhandle, up to Alabama, across Mississippi, with tropical storm warnings extended further east and west along the coast.
The continental land mass managed to weaken Dennis to a tropical depression by early July 11. The depression persisted. He gained strength the next day while hovering over Illinois. Dennis finally dissipated as far north as Ontario on July 13.
All tolled, Dennis caused at least 89 deaths in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Damages totaled $2.23 billion for the United States. Approximately the same amount of damage was estimated for the Caribbean, most of which happened on Cuba.