With Major Hurricane Matthew burrowing through the Caribbean this provides a perfect time look back at October hurricanes in the state of Florida. While the most dangerous part of Hurricane Season ends in September, historically Florida has been far more vulnerable to late season storms than other parts of the United States. In fact, according to National Hurricane Center records, Florida has been hit directly by October storms almost four times as often as the next highest state – Louisiana, since recordkeeping began in 1851. Historically, Cape Verde type storms which dominate August and September hit the Gulf Coast or the Carolinas as frequently as they hit Florida.
Here are some memorable October Florida hurricanes.
Hurricane King made landfall near Miami and was considered either the most or second most severe Hurricane to hit the area since the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane (the 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane was of similar strength and intensity when it made landfall in the area) and early issuance of Hurricane Warnings were credited with saving lives and property since the general population of the region was generally complacent about storms. The storm ripped right up the state causing lots of damage to crops and other agricultural interests in the central part of Florida. The lateness of the storm impacted many of the winter vegetable crops Florida had become reliant on economically as well as doing damage to the years citrus crop.
Most of the panhandle felt the wrath of Opal which made landfall as a Category 3 storm east of Pensacola. Opal was directly related to about $5.1 bn in damage in the state, making it one of the costliest storms on record for the state. Fortunately, Opal was only responsible for one death in the state. The erosion caused by the storm surge and other factors removed the visible sand dunes from US 98 further east and flooded the roadway for days. Another part of US 98 in Okaloosa County was completely washed out and destroyed.
Wilma was culmination of fifteen months of hurricane hell for Florida residents. In 2004, Charley, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne had all hit the state as Category 2 or stronger storms causing some irreparable damage to the state. In terms of politics George W Bush benefited directly in a Presidential year from his brother Jeb serving as Governor and getting photo op after photo op. While both Bushes coddled the insurance industry even after they began raising premiums in the wake of the 2004 season, 2005 provided more excitement. Dennis, Katrina and finally Wilma ravaged the state. The final storm was particularly ugly for an unprepared southeast Florida who saw a gulf storm make landfall in SW Florida and tear across the state with remarkable intensity.