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Hurricanes

Are you prepared?

Collier County All Hazards Guide

The Collier County All-Hazards Guide is your ready reference guide to help you, your family, and your business prepare for those dangerous and potentially deadly days caused by Mother Nature such as flood, fire, hurricane, and tornadoes. 

Download Collier County All Hazards Guide

Emergency Kit

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Hurricane Kit Photo

Did you know?

Where did the word “hurricane” come from?

The English word “hurricane” comes from the Taino word “Huricán” as spoken by the indigenous people of the Caribbean. Huricán represents the Carib Indian god of evil. Their word Huricán was derived from the Mayan god of wind, storm, and fire, “Huracán.” When the Spanish explorers passed through the Caribbean, they began using the word and evolved it into “huracán” which remains the Spanish word for hurricane today. By the 16th century, the word was modified once again to the present-day “hurricane.”

What is the difference between cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes?

All three storm systems are basically the same thing, but are given different names depending on where they appear. Hurricanes form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

How are hurricanes classified?

Hurricanes are classified into five categories, based on their wind speeds and potential to cause damage.

  • Category 1: Winds 74-95 miles per hour
  • Category 2: Winds 96-110 miles per hour
  • Category 3: Winds 111-130 miles per hour
  • Category 4: Winds 131-155 miles per hour
  • Category 5: Winds greater than 155 miles per hour
What is the history of hurricanes in Florida according to NOAA?

1906

Delivering its blow on October 18, this storm made landfall in the Florida Keys and killed more than 200 people with more than half of those workers on the Florida East Coast Railway.

Great Miami Hurricane 1926

On September 18, the eye of this Cat 4 storm passed over Miami with wind gusts estimated at 150 miles per hour. Most buildings in Dade and Broward Counties were damaged or destroyed. There was major flooding of all coastal sections, downtown Miami, and downtown Ft. Lauderdale. A storm surge of nearly 15 feet was reported in Coconut Grove. Many casualties resulted as people ventured outdoors during the half-hour lull in the storm as the eye passed overhead. Most residents, having not experienced a hurricane, believed that the storm had passed. The town of Moore Haven on the south side of Lake Okeechobee was completely flooded by lake surge with hundreds of people killed.

Okeechobee Hurricane 1928

This storm came ashore near Palm Beach on September 16th and caused widespread destruction. Nearly 2,000 people died when the dikes broke on Lake Okeechobee, causing massive flooding.

Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane 1935

On September 2nd, this strong storm made landfall in the Florida Keys and then continued northward hugging the west coast of Florida until making landfall again at Cedar Key. No wind measurements are available, but with a pressure of 892 millibars as measured at Long Key, Florida, this storm still ranks as the most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States.

This small but intense Cat 5 storm caused significant damage and killed more than 400 people in the Florida Keys, primarily among World War I veterans who had been sent to the Keys to build the Overseas Railroad. The storm surge floated an entire train away.

Hurricane Donna 1960

On September 10, Hurricane Donna with nearly 150 mph winds made landfall in the Florida Keys and then again in Naples as a Cat 4 with winds of 120 mph. The storm then continued on up the eastern seaboard. Donna was so strong by the time she reached the United States that she remains the only hurricane of record to produce hurricane-force winds in Florida, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New England.

Stories of survival and sorrow were recorded, including George Brainard, a beach merchant, who went to his store during the calm period as the eye of Donna passed through. He didn’t leave for safety in time. The eye passed on. The wind roared in on him and the Gulf seas broke all barriers. The body of George Brainard was found more than a mile from his home in the mangroves. Mary Watkins remembers the water and wind rushing into the dining room at the Naples Beach Hotel, and sucking all the tables and chairs into the Gulf. Windows broke, palms snapped and water and sand rushed into rooms near the shore. It was also recorded that as the eye approached, it sucked the water from the Gordon River as well as Naples Bay and the Bay went dry.

Hurricane Andrew 1992

Andrew still stands as one of the most destructive United States hurricanes of record. It made landfall in Homestead on August 24th as a Cat 4 storm.
Andrew’s peak winds in south Florida were not directly measured due to destruction of the measuring instruments. An automated station at Fowey Rocks reported 142 mph sustained winds with gusts to 169 mph (measured 144 ft above the ground), and higher values may have occurred after the station was damaged and stopped reporting. The National Hurricane Center had a peak gust of 164 mph (measured 130 ft above the ground), while a 177 mph gust was measured at a private home. The storm also produced a 17 ft storm surge.

Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne 2004/Wilma 2005

The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season was deadly and destructive with more than 3,200 deaths and $61 billion (2004 USD) in damage. More than half of the 16 storms brushed or struck the United States. During 2004, Florida had more than its share of these hurricanes four in total: category 4 Charley on August 13 near Punta Gorda on the east coast; category 2 Frances on September 5 at Hutchinson Island on the west coast; category 3 Ivan on September 16 near the Florida/Alabama border; and, finally, category 3 Jeanne on September 26 near Hutchinson Island on the west coast, site of Frances landfall just three weeks prior.

The following hurricane season (2005) brought yet another hurricane to Florida’s shores – Wilma on October 24 with landfall in southwest Florida. Wilma also brought with it 10 tornadoes throughout the State.

Hurricane Irma 2017

On September 10, category 4 Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys about 20 miles north of Key West. It then continued on and made landfall again just south of Naples in Marco Island. The Florida Keys received approximately 12 inches of rain and a 10-foot storm surge. Rainfall averaged 10 to 15 inches. Irma caused widespread devastation across the affected areas and was one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes on record in the Atlantic basin. The storm may have caused more damage, but Florida’s lessons learned from Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the catalyst for revamped building codes to make houses more resilient to storms. As a result, 80% of the homes in Irma’s path were built to better withstand the storms.

Hurricane Michael 2018

Hurricane Michael made landfall in the panhandle of Florida near Mexico Beach as a category 5 storm with winds estimated at 160 mph and making it one of only four category 5 hurricanes to batter the United States. Aerial footage after the storm showed massive damage and destruction in coastal cities in the Panhandle, such as Mexico Beach and Panama City. It was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the US, according to the hurricane center.