Florida Spared Significant Hurricane Activity in 2019
The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season has come to a close with little direct impact on Florida. This is welcomed relief after most areas of the state experienced damage in at least one of the three preceding years.
The relative lack of hurricane activity in Florida this year might have more to do with luck than to a reduction in the number of Atlantic hurricanes. According to reports, the 2019 hurricane season was the 8th most active on record. Reported damages of nearly $14 billion are far less than the $50 billion in 2018 and $220 billion in 2017. Still, the nearby devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian serves as a reminder of the threat these storms pose to Floridians.
The storms periodically recalibrate our understanding of what is possible. Nearly 30 years ago, Hurricane Andrew showed that we previously underestimated the potential strength and devastation of these storms, particularly as they might affect Florida’s more urban areas. In 2004 and 2005, we learned that hurricanes can occur with such frequency as to strain many logistical and financial aspects of the system. This year, Hurricane Dorian’s sheer power, coupled with its stalling near land, created a new understanding of the cumulative impact a hurricane can have in a concentrated area. As some commentators have observed, there’s never been an area hit harder, for longer, than the Bahamas experienced with Dorian.
We are fortunate that the 2019 hurricane season has passed with no further impact on Florida. Six months from now, we’ll return to crossing our fingers and hoping for the same in 2020.