Southeast Florida is living a charmed life. Time and again the region has escaped the wrath of tropical weather. The last direct hit/land falling hurricane southeastern Florida received was 15 years ago this month, Hurricane Katrina. The last time the region received sustained Hurricane force winds was two months later with the arrival of Wilma.
Since 2005, the region has seen an explosion in new high rise buildings and a continued increase in both population and global economic relevance. The area has become one of the most important metropolitan areas in the Western Hemisphere.
However, with Isaias near miss this past weekend, the three counties of southeastern Florida have now dodged four bullets in five years. How close has the region been to being badly hit? Just look at the graphics below.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Keys as a Category 4 storm. Most of the state was impacted and the Tampa Bay Area received its first Hurricane force winds since 1921. But most of the populated areas of southeast Florida got nothing more than Tropical Storm force winds & some Hurricane force gusts (two exceptions – the Homestead/Florida City area and the extreme western portion of Pembroke Pines *may* have had sustained Hurricane force winds- at the very least those pockets had hours of very strong Tropical Storm force winds, which given the duration of the event was destructive). Had the storm made landfall just 20 miles to the east, lets say around the west end of Seven Mile Bridge rather than at Cudjoe Key, Metropolitan Southeast Florida would have been ravaged. Still, Broward County led the state with 21 storm-related deaths.
Hurricane Dorian is recorded as one of the strongest land-falling tropical systems on record in the Atlantic basin. It missed making a direct hit on Palm Beach County by a matter of less than a 100 miles. It did deliver the county sustained Tropical Storm winds and produced Tropical Storm gusts for Broward County. Miami-Dade got no serious impacts.
Southeast Florida had a similar run of luck between Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The region went 27 years without a direct hit by a Hurricane – but in that era the only near miss was David in 1979. By comparison, the region has had four near misses, three from Major Hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) since 2016. That makes this era, historically about as lucky as you can get.