A Look Back – Florida’s Likelihood of October Hurricanes

Now that summer is officially over and October is here, Floridians are breathing a huge sigh of relief for another year of no hurricanes. But don’t celebrate just yet…hurricane season still has through the end of November before we’re in the clear! Although summertime spells out peak conditions for hurricanes to form, the threat still remains after the season ends.

Contrary to popular belief, hurricanes are most likely to affect South Florida in October. Historically speaking, the state is most likely to experience a hurricane within this month, meaning that hurricane prep is extremely essential! As a matter of fact, between 1851 and 2013 alone, there have been a total of 32 hurricanes that made direct landfall in Florida during October. To put that number in perspective, just consider that there have been 17 major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) to impact the United States since 1851…10 of those occurred in Florida. Some of the most impactful October hurricanes, regardless of geographic location, include the following:

Hurricane Wilma
Occurring in the earlier half of October, Hurricane Wilma was a storm for the books, as it strengthened from a tropical depression, to a tropical storm, to a hurricane within the span of a few days. In a very short matter of time, the hurricane catapulted to a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 173 mph. The damage was estimated to be over $20 billion as a result.

Hurricane Mitch
Much like Wilma, Hurricane Mitch originally formed within the earlier part of October, beginning as a tropical wave but officially became a hurricane towards the end of the month. At the peak of it’s strength, Hurricane Mitch reached category 5 with winds of an estimated 180 mph. The resulting flooding and damage was devastating. Honduras suffered from 70% of its total crops destroyed, while 23,900 homes and 340 schools were destroyed in Nicaragua.

Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy is a more recent October storm, forming in 2012. In fact, during that year it was the 18th named storm with winds that reached 74 mph. Initially Sandy swept through the Caribbean, weakening along the way. Later Sandy made landfall in the United States near Atlantic City, NJ, causing flooding, destruction and sheer panic to surrounding areas. Superstorm Sandy’s winds extended up to 175 miles from its center and resulted in $20 billion in property damage.