Florida’s decade-long run of avoiding direct hits from Hurricanes ended last summer when Hurricane Hermine hit the Big Bend area dumping rain and damaging winds throughout the region. Hurricane Matthew didn’t hit the state but hugged the coast and did deliver Hurricane force winds in Brevard, Volusia, Flager, St John’s and Duval counties.
Having woken up from a decade-long run of luck (Florida suffered zero direct hits from Hurricanes from 2006 to 2015), Florida in 2017 seems as vulnerable as in 2004 and 2005. Already a tropical system has dropped records amount of rain in parts of the state and now we face double-trouble in the tropics. Two potential storms are being tracked by forecasters currently and while Florida is likely to avoid the direct impacts of either, it’s time for our state to be psychologically prepared for what appears to be an unusually active storm season.
Politicians, media and local merchants have often exploited even the most remote storm threat in that decade-long period of no direct hits or substantial Hurricane impacts. In the period the state did get soaked by rain on occasion, most notably Tropical Storm Fay which sat over East Central and Northeast Florida for days.
Typically in June, storms form off the Yucatan Peninsula or Central America, much like they do in October and November. Currently a disturbance with a 90% chance of development sits off Yucatan right now – the developing storm could track north toward the Gulf Coast but could always drift toward Florida. The second potential storm is off the coast of South America and historically very few tropical systems have made their way from that far south to Florida – however two exceptions, Matthew last year and Ivan in 2004 remind us it is possible though unlikely.
For now it’s important Floridians keep an eye on the tropics and prepare to cope with a potential storm this season.