The Brian Mudd Show

The Brian Mudd Show

There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. That's Brian's mantra and what drives him to get beyond the headlines.Full Bio


Q&A – Which Florida Coastline is Most Likely to be hit by Hurricanes? 

Q&A of the Day – Which Florida Coastline is Most Likely to be hit by Hurricanes? 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.  


Gettr, Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio  

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.     

Today’s entry: Brian, Florida’s Gulf coast is taking the brunt of all of the hurricanes. Are they now more likely to get hit by hurricanes than we are? 

Bottom Line: The answer to your question is yes, Florida’s west coast has been getting the short end of the hurricane stick, though this isn’t actually anything that’s new. It’s just one of those factoids which I think surprises many people, even Floridians. If you just look at a map, here we are in Southeast Florida sticking out in the Atlantic looking as though we have a hurricane target on us. It’s human nature to think we’d be the most likely to deal with the direct impact of hurricanes. But as I’ve mentioned several times this hurricane season... Perhaps the most unlikely Florida hurricane trivia question would be how long it's been since Southeast Florida took a direct landfall from hurricane. The answer, Wilma was the most recent in 2005...and even that one made landfall on Florida’s west coast first. That’s a bit of a preview of where this story is going.  

The Atlantic Hurricane season record keeping officially began in 1851. While overall numbers of storms and hurricanes were doubtlessly undercounted in the pre-satellite technology days, the record keeping for Florida landfalls is sound and well documented. Updated as of the impact of Hurricane Ian, here’s how many hurricanes have made landfall in Florida by region

  • Northwest: 67 (14 major) 
  • Southwest: 50 (18 major) 
  • Southeast: 49 (16 major) 
  • Northeast: 26 (1 major) 

Straight away it’s evident Florida’s Gulf Coast has been far more hurricane prone than Florida’s east coast. Of the 192 hurricanes to make landfall in Florida over the past 171 years, 117 or 68% of them have made landfall along Florida’s Gulf coast. That also includes 65% of major hurricanes to make landfall. Having had two-thirds of Florida’s hurricanes landing on Florida’s west coast is probably another trivia question you could win some bets on as well. Incidentally, insurance companies also quantify Florida hurricane risk in these regions as well. 

If you weren’t already surprised by the Gulf coast typically being more at risk than the east coast, you probably are surprised that Florida’s southeast has actually been the 2nd “safest” location from the threat of hurricanes. It’s another reminder that conventional wisdom often isn’t wise. What’s more is how remarkable our run has been free from hurricane landfalls – especially during a period of elevated activity in recent years. 

Historically here’s what’s happened in Southeast Florida (average hurricane activity dating back to 1851): 

  • One hurricane landfall every 3.5 years 
  • One major hurricane landfall about every 11 years 

Something notable is how below average the hurricane impact has been to Southeast Florida since 2005. According to historical averages we would have had four or five hurricanes make landfall over the previous 16 years with between one to two of those being majors. Instead, it’s been zero, with only one, hurricane Irma in 2017, bringing hurricane force conditions to the region. In fact, we’re currently within the second longest window without a hurricane landfall in southeast Florida over the past 171 years at a minimum. Perception and reality are often in two different places. That’s proved to be especially true historically for Southeast Florida. Now, let’s keep that streak going... 

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