Florida Hurricane Myths Are Many

Contrary to the image of many Northerners and visitors to Florida the summer months are the not the greatest time for Florida hurricanes.  September is often viewed as a great time to come to Florida and enjoy warm weather, amusement parks minus most school children, and lower prices.  It is also, unfortunately, the time of Florida’s greatest and most hurricanes in history.

In reality the hurricane season in the tropics runs to December although September and October have been the most serious months in Florida’s hurricane history.

floridatraveler sunk boats-Hurricane-Hermine

Here are some of the most serious myths and dumbest behaviors that people, Florida residents or not, have about living with a hurricane.

Myth: I bought a tenth floor condo apartment on the Gulf so I am more are safe in a storm.

Reality: Wind speed increases the higher you go (skyscrapers can feel like they’re swaying on a really windy day). Higher wind speed could blow out windows. Also, if the area floods around you, it makes rescue very tough. If you need to evacuate, get out, not up.

floridatraveler jacksonville mess hurricane

This Is Jacksonville area – not South Florida

Myth: Storm windows are expensive and take time to put up and I hate nailing ugly plywood to my beautiful house.  I tape your windows with duct tape or masking tape to prevent them from breaking in a storm.

Reality: It doesn’t. Period. If something hits a window during a hurricane, it likely will hit it with such force that no amount of tape can save the window. In fact, it may make it worse, because the windows may break into bigger shards of glass, which can cause serious injuries.

Myth: Whenever a hurricane nears my town, I fill my bathtub so my family has drinking water during and after a storm.

Reality:  My wife and I live in Tampa and buy Zephryhills Spring Water to drink.  Gads!  Do you have a water purification system attached to your bath water?  You can use bath water for washing clothes, bathing or helping in flushing toilets but please buy bottled water instead. Bottled water, stored in a cool, dry place can last for years.

floridatraveler ALLIGATOR PT road and hurricane

Even a Road At Alligator Point Can’t Beat Ocean Waves

Myth: I only consider leaving my beach cottage when it is a category 2 storm for tropical storms and category 1 and 2 hurricanes are no big deal.

Reality: Every storm has unique characteristics so even if your house was OK with a category 1 or 2 storm, there might have been factors.  In which direction was the wind?  Was it low or high tide?

  1. The common belief that the worst thing about a hurricane or tropical storm is the wind speeds is false. That’s really not the worst part of a storm. The most dangerous part of a storm is water, from storm surge and from flooding.
  2. Some of the worst flooding and most deaths have taken place during category 1 and 2 storms that flooded rivers and collapsed sea walls.

floridatraveler florida 2004 hurricanes

Myth: If you crack open a window on the opposite side of a storm you equalize pressure in the home and neutralize the winds.

Reality: People in Tornado Alley often believe this until a 150 mile per hour tornado levels their house.   An open window will not affect your house’s ability to stop flying debris and crashing trees.   You will not balance air pressure by your actions.

Myth: I’ll be vacationing in the Orlando area not the coast so I will be safe.

Reality: Ever point in Florida is less than eighty miles from the coast and Florida is so flat that huge hurricanes lose very little power going across the state.  One storm in 2004 went across Florida from Atlantic to Gulf and liked Florida so much it came back Gulf to Atlantic.

floridatraveler hurricane means empty epcot

Hurricanes Can Close Epcot Down

Myth:  I’m staying in a motel not a house so I am safer.

Reality: Not to be a party spoiler, but when your area is to evacuate they mean everyone must flee or go to the nearest shelter.  I remember Charley that went up Charlotte Harbor and hit Punta Gorda.  Amazingly the well-built Victorian waterfront houses of the historic district survived with minor damage, but two large motels and the high school were torn to bits.   I am not so confident in motel and hotel construction unless it is a replacement for places destroyed in earlier hurricanes.

floridatraveler Charlie and Charlotte High

Charley Closed School at Charlotte High (Punta Gorda)

Myth: I spent a lot of money on this vacation so I’ll evacuate when the weather starts to get bad.

Reality: If you wait until the weather gets bad, the roads will be crowded, the shelters will be filled with screaming babies, and the safest hotels will have no vacancies.  It may be too late. People who ignore evacuation orders, are often people who don’t have the slightest notion where to go if a storm hits.  Storm warnings are not just for people living in mobile homes or who are aged.

 

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About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
This entry was posted in conservation, disney, environment, florida education, florida history, florida vacations, Historic Buildings, Hurricanes, mcbobleonard, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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