There is no doubt that Florida experiences a significant number of hurricanes on a regular basis.
And whether you are traveling or looking to move to Florida, you’re probably wondering what area is the safest place in Florida from hurricanes?
We get it because we made the move to Florida years ago and found ourselves asking the very same question.
Throughout our lives, Tom and I have spent the majority of our time living either on or near the Gulf of Mexico, enduring countless powerful hurricanes.
We’ve combed through hundreds of data points to help you navigate the safest Florida experience possible.
Let’s dig in to find out more.
What are the safest cities in Florida from Hurricanes (Short Answer)
Considering hurricanes of Categories 1 to 5, the most secure regions in Florida include Central Florida (for instance, Orlando), Northeast Florida (such as Palatka), Central West Florida (Tampa), and North Central Florida (including Gainesville).
These regions have historically experienced fewer hurricane landfalls compared to other areas in Florida.
As you can see below, Central Florida has the least intense activity overall.
- Purple: Cat 5 Hurricane (Catastrophic) – 157+ mph
- Pink: Cat 4 Hurricane (Extreme) – 130-156 mph
- Red: Cat 3 Hurricane (Extensive) – 111-129 mph
- Orange: Cat 2 Hurricane (Moderate) – 96-110 mph
- Yellow: Cat 1 Hurricane (Minimal) – 74-95 mph
- Green: Tropical Storm – 39-73 mph
Orlando would likely rank as the safest big city from hurricanes due to its inland geography which weakens storms.
Note that Orlando has not been affected by any hurricane exceeding Category-2 thus far.
It’s important to bear in mind that no part of Florida is completely immune to hurricanes. Storms have been known to hit with very little warning.
Therefore, it’s crucial for all residents to remain vigilant and well-prepared throughout the hurricane season.
How many Hurricanes has Florida had?
Based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida has had 173 hurricane-force storms since 1887 (Category 1-5).
You are probably thinking that sounds like a lot, and you’d be right. Here is a look at the paths of all 173 hurricanes.
By looking at this graph, you might be debating whether Florida has any safe areas at all.
We are here to tell you that Florida does have safe cities with great track records of minimal hurricanes, such as Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville.
Let’s dig into the details a bit more.
How often do category 5 hurricanes hit Florida?
Category 5 hurricanes are the most dangerous storms on Earth and cause tremendous property damage, loss of life, and catastrophic flooding.
In addition, Category 5 hurricanes are the most severe on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with wind speeds exceeding 157 mph.
Hurricane Allen, a fierce Category 5 storm, reached a wind speed of 190 mph in 1980!!!
These storms cause catastrophic damage, posing significant threats to life and property, and are capable of leveling buildings and causing extensive coastal flooding.
When people think of terrifying hurricanes in Florida, they are often thinking about Cat5 storms.
27 Category-5 storms have approached Florida since 1891.
With that being said, only four Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the US: Hurricane Michael (2018), Hurricane Andrew (1992), Hurricane Camille (1969), and the Labor Day Hurricane (1935).
Florida has experienced 3 out of 4 of those hurricanes.
The good news: If you have lived in Florida over the last 100 years, you’ve only seen three Category 5 hurricanes.
|Cat 5 Hurricane||Year||Landfall as Cat5||Landfall Location|
|LABOR DAY||1935||Yes||Florida Keys|
What you will notice with the table above is that category 5 hurricanes in Florida aren’t very frequent and they rarely make landfall with 157 mph sustained winds to be classified as a Category 5.
As you can see below, storms start out as Category 5 (purple), but rarely make landfall at that intensity.
It should be noted that Category 5 storm frequency has begun increasing in the ocean over the last three decades.
Number of Category 5 hurricanes by decade (near Florida)
- 1890s: 0 Category 5 hurricanes
- 1900s: 1 Category 5 hurricane
- 1910s: 1 Category 5 hurricane
- 1920s: 2 Category 5 hurricanes
- 1930s: 1 Category 5 hurricane
- 1940s: 0 Category 5 hurricanes
- 1950s: 1 Category 5 hurricane
- 1960s: 1 Category 5 hurricane
- 1970s: 0 Category 5 hurricanes
- 1980s: 1 Category 5 hurricane
- 1990s: 2 Category 5 hurricanes
- 2000s: 2 Category 5 hurricanes
- 2010s: 3 Category 5 hurricanes
- 2020s*: 1 Category 5 hurricane
What cities are most at risk of Category 5 hurricanes in Florida?
Miami and the Fort Myers to Everglades area in Southeastern Florida have had the most Category 5 hurricanes. These areas have also been affected by hurricanes that were initially Category 5 but weakened before hitting land.
Are Category 4 storms a problem in Florida?
Yes, Category 4 storms have devastated Florida. 49 Category-4 storms have approached Florida—though most never made landfall as a Cat4.
The last known Category 4 storm to severely impact Florida was Hurricane Ian of 2022, causing $115 billion dollars in damage and 150 deaths.
Hurricane Ian struck the southwestern coast with winds of 155 mph.
It was a strong Category 4 hurricane, just 2 mph away from being classified as a Category 5.
Furthermore, the state of Florida was severely devastated by Hurricane Charley in 2004.
The fierce storm made direct impact near Cayo Costa, unleashing devastating winds reaching a maximum speed of 150 mph.
As a result, the destruction caused by this natural disaster amounted to a staggering estimated loss of $15.1 billion.
Category 4 hurricanes can become unbelievably destructive due to their ability to grow into a Category 5 when traversing coastal waters, and ultimately striking land with force as a powerful Category 4 storm.
Recent examples include both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey, which were two of the most devastating hurricanes in American history.
How many Category 4 storms have made landfall in Florida?
Three Category-4 storms have made landfall in Florida.
- Hurricane Charley in 2004: It made landfall in Florida on August 13, 2004, as a Category 4 hurricane near Cayo Costa.
- Hurricane Donna in 1960: It made landfall in the Florida Keys and then crossed over the state, making a second landfall near Naples as a Category 4 hurricane.
- Hurricane Ian in 2022: Making landfall in Punta Gorda, Florida on September 28, 2022, as a Category 4 hurricane causing immense damage.
**Hurricane Michael of 2018 was initially rated as a Category 4 but after analysis, insurance companies decided to reclassify the hurricane as a Category 5 based on the damage alone.
Florida faces a considerable threat from Category 4 storms due to their immense capacity for destruction.
These powerful storms bring hurricane-force winds, tidal surges, and torrential downpours which can inflict extensive harm and property damage.
Below is a map of Category 4 hurricane activity around Florida. While many storms started out as a 4 in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean, most weaken by the time they hit Florida.
What cities are most at risk of Category 4 hurricanes in Florida?
Florida’s southern tip and the southeastern area below Sarasota have been severely affected by Category 4 hurricanes, similar to the threat posed by Category 5 hurricanes.
Should I be worried about Category 3 hurricanes in Florida?
Yes, 75 Category-3 hurricanes have approached Florida.
While Category 3 storms have much slower wind speeds than Categories 4 or 5 hurricanes, they can still cause billions in damage and loss of life.
Taking these storms seriously is of utmost importance.
They have the potential to cause significant devastation with their powerful winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall.
It is essential to be prepared and remain vigilant in order to minimize the impact they could have on both lives and property.
How many category 3 hurricanes have hit Florida?
To date, only four Category-3 hurricanes have made landfall in Florida.
Below is a breakdown of the date, city, and total damage caused by each hurricane.
|Hurricane||Year||Landfall Date||Landfall City||Estimated Damages (USD)||Estimated Death Toll|
|Hurricane Irma||2017||Sep 10, 2017||Cudjoe Key||$50 billion||92|
|Hurricane Jeanne||2004||Sep 26, 2004||Stuart||$8.1 billion||3|
|Hurricane Dennis||2005||Jul 10, 2005||Navarre||$4.7 billion||88|
|Hurricane Donna||1960||Sep 10, 1960||Naples||$387.5 million||50|
What cities are most at risk of Category 3 hurricanes in Florida?
Cateogry-3 hurricanes have been a bit of an anomaly, hitting different areas across the state.
Hurricane Jeanne hit the Southeast area of Florida, while Hurricane Irma affected the Florida Keys. Hurricane Dennis struck the Panhandle, and Hurricane Donna affected the Southwest portion of Florida.
Central Florida (e.g. Orlando), Northeast Florida (e.g. Gainesville), Central West Florida (Tampa), and North Central Florida (Gainesville) are the only areas that have thus far remained untouched by Category 3 hurricanes.
Should I be worried about Category 2 hurricanes in Florida?
With over 100 Category-2 storms having approached Florida, it would be wise to respect their power.
Category 2 hurricanes are frequently underestimated and should not be taken lightly.
The following two Category-2 hurricanes were underestimated in Florida by many people.
- Hurricane Frances (2004): Made landfall in Florida as a Category 2 hurricane on September 5, 2004, near Sewall’s Point.
- Hurricane Wilma (2005): Made landfall in Florida as a Category 2 hurricane on October 24, 2005, near Cape Romano.
While Category 2 hurricanes are not as powerful as Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricanes, they still pose significant risks and can cause considerable damage.
These storms can bring strong winds, storm surge, heavy rainfall, and flooding, which can result in damage to buildings, power outages, and flooding. Keep in mind that Category 2 hurricanes have winds over 100 mph.
While Category 2 hurricanes may not be as intense as higher-category storms, they can still cause significant problems and should not be underestimated.
Preparedness and awareness are key to ensuring your safety and well-being during any hurricane event.
What cities are most at risk of Category 2 hurricanes in Florida?
Most Category-2 hurricanes tend to affect the Southeast, specifically the Port Saint Lucie area, and the Florida Bend Area, which is located between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers.
In addition, it’s far more likely that Category 4 or 5 hurricanes will weaken into a Category 2 as it moves over land.
What cities are most at risk of Category 1 hurricanes in Florida?
Honestly, all of them.
What about Category 1 hurricanes in Florida?
Over the last 130 years, Category 1 hurricanes occur with a bit more frequency than Category 2 hurricanes (146 vs 100).
However, Category 1 hurricanes have the lowest wind speeds of all hurricanes, typically ranging from 74 to 95 mph.
Although Category 1 hurricanes have lower wind speeds compared to other categories, they still have the ability to cause significant damage through heavy rainfall, storm surges, and localized flooding.
The greatest risk of a Category 1 hurricane lies in heavy rainfall, storm surge, and strong winds. These storms can cause flooding, coastal inundation, wind damage, power outages, and even spawn tornadoes.
Residents should take these storms seriously, be prepared with a hurricane kit, and stay informed to ensure their safety.
If you could only live in one Florida city to be safe from hurricanes, which city would it be?
Orlando is often considered one of the safest cities in Florida from hurricanes due to its unique combination of factors.
Being located inland helps to reduce the impact of storm surges and strong winds that happen when a storm reaches the coast.
Hurricanes lose strength when they reach Orlando because it is centrally located. This helps protect the city from strong storms.
Even better, Orlando’s central location allows residents to easily drive to both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in case of evacuation.
In addition to its geographical advantages, Orlando offers big city amenities and infrastructure that can better withstand the impacts of storms.
West Orlando has an extra level of protection with its 300 foot hills in cities like Clermont, FL which can act as a flood barrier.
Orlando is a good option for people who want to be safe from hurricanes. Although no place is completely safe, Orlando’s location, resources, and lower risk compared to coastal areas make it a preferred choice.
How to prepare for a hurricane
- Stay Informed: Monitor weather updates from reliable sources like the National Hurricane Center and local meteorological agencies. Pay attention to advisories, watches, and warnings issued by local authorities.
- Create a Hurricane Kit: Assemble a hurricane preparedness kit that includes essential items such as non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, important documents, cash, and any necessary medications. Ensure you have enough supplies to last for several days.
- Secure Your Home: Trim trees and bushes around your property to reduce potential flying debris. Reinforce or board up windows and doors to protect against strong winds. Secure outdoor furniture and objects that could become projectiles during the storm.
- Evacuation Plan: Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in your area and have a plan in place if you need to leave your home. Know the location of nearby shelters if evacuation is required.
- Protect Important Documents: Keep important documents like insurance policies, identification, and medical records in a waterproof and portable container. Consider making digital copies as well.
- Power Outage Preparation: Have a battery-powered radio to stay updated on the situation in case of power outages. Charge your cell phone and have a portable power bank.
- Plan for Pets: If you have pets, ensure their safety by having food, water, and medications for them as well. Identify pet-friendly shelters in case you need to evacuate with your animals.
- Stay Indoors: During the storm, stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors. Avoid going outside until the authorities declare it safe to do so.
- Post-Storm Assessment: After the storm has passed, assess any damage to your property and surroundings cautiously. Be cautious of downed power lines and standing water, which could be dangerous.
Florida is a gorgeous safe, but it has hurricanes, however most states in the US deal with some sort of natural disaster (hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfire, drought).
We believe areas like Central Florida, including Orlando, stands out as a relatively secure area due to its inland geography, which weakens storms, and its central location.
Residents in this region can easily drive to both coasts in case of evacuation.
In addition, Tampa, Melbourne, and Jacksonville have minimal hurricane impact for being Florida coastal cities. Life isn’t always easier on the coast, but these cities have stood out amongst the rest.
Storm surges and hurricane frequency tends to impact Gulf Coast cities more than Atlantic cities.
While no place is entirely immune to hurricanes, Orlando’s combination of factors, including big city amenities and infrastructure, offers better protection compared to coastal areas.
Preparedness, staying informed, and being cautious during hurricane season are essential for residents across Florida.
Frequently asked questions
When is hurricane season in Florida?
Hurricane season typically occurs between June 1st and November 30th each year. Climate patterns and their effects are complex and can vary from year to year.
|Start Date||End Date|
|June 1||November 30|
What month is most active for hurricane season?
The most active month during the hurricane season in the Atlantic basin is usually September.
Historically, September has seen the highest frequency of hurricanes and major hurricanes. It is considered the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, though activity can also be prevalent in August and October.
What is a sales tax holiday for hurricanes?
Florida does have sales tax holidays, which are temporary periods during which certain items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax.
These tax holidays are typically announced by the state government in advance of the hurricane season to encourage residents to prepare for potential storms.
How are hurricane speeds classified?
We classify hurricane intensity based on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
|Category||Sustained Wind Speed (mph)||Sustained Wind Speed (km/h)||Damage Potential|
|5||157 or higher||252 or higher||Catastrophic|