Severe Weather

Florida Is Spared From Hurricanes for Record Ninth-Straight Year

Hurricane season officially ends on Sunday and, here we are another year without getting hit by one. It's almost as if we shouldn't even bother with having a hurricane season. Yet scientists say we're just smack in the middle of a ridiculously lucky streak -- one that is going on for almost a decade.

The United States as a whole was spared this year, with only one hurricane -- Arthur -- making landfall in July.

Overall, this season has produced only eight named storms, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had predicted back in May. An average hurricane season sees about 12 hurricanes. And Florida itself was spared from being hit for the ninth-straight season, with Wilma being the last hurricane to make landfall in the Sunshine State, back in 2005.

See also: Only Three Hurricanes Forming This Year, Experts Say

According to NOAA, El Niño was a major reason why hurricanes failed to form. El Niño is a band of warm water in the Atlantic that disrupts the formation of storms with a stronger wind shear than usual, reducing the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. Moreover, it acts like a steroid for trade winds and atmospheric stability.

While El Niño can be a tad unpredictable, it more often than not steers hurricanes away from Florida or messes up hurricanes coming off the coast of Africa altogether.

Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University predicted before anyone that the 2014 hurricane season will be a mild one, thanks mainly to El Niño.

In April, Klotzbach said this year's El Niño would be a particularly strong one and so, as a result, hurricane season would be a tepid one.

On Sunday, Klotzbach told the Herald-Tribune that Florida "has been very, very lucky."

Usually, Florida gets a 50-50 shot every year when it comes to a hurricane making landfall.

Yet since 2005, 61 named hurricanes have come through the Atlantic with nary a one hitting us. Klotzbach says the odds of all 61 not making landfall in Florida are 1,150 to 1.

The National Hurricane Center's spokesman Dennis Feltgen echoed Klotzbach's sentiment that Florida has been very luck, but also cautioned what that might mean.

Namely, that the luck has to run out soon.

"There's a lot of inexperience out there, complacency out there. And there's probably a lot of denial out there," Feltgen told WLRN. "Those are three not very good factors which could combine and rear their ugly head if a hurricane comes at us."

Even before the 2014 Hurricane Season started, and NOAA was already predicting a slower-than-usual season, they warned that complacency is the most dangerous thing facing our state in regards to hurricanes.

"Thanks to the environmental intelligence from NOAA's network of earth observations, our scientists and meteorologists can provide life-saving products like our new storm surge threat map and our hurricane forecasts," Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator, said via a press release prior to the 2014 season. "And even though we expect El Niño to suppress the number of storms this season, it's important to remember it takes only one land falling storm to cause a disaster."

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph