Karen Joyce Homes

Karen E. Joyce

East Coast Preferred Properties

(386) 986-8709 cell

(386) 445-9288 office

I'd like to help you buy a beautiful home by the beach in Palm Coast, Florida. The lovely Palm Coast area is divided into two parts: the City of Palm Coast (west of the intracoastal waterway), and the Beachside (east of the waterway). The area has a growing number of gated communities. On the ocean or on the river, golf course or lake, condo, townhome or single family, tell me what you want and I will find it for you!

Hurricanes In North Florida

Archives of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) show that northeast Florida has been hit by hurricanes much less often than the rest of the state.  (“Northeast Florida”, for the purposes of this discussion, includes only the coastal counties of Volusia, Flagler, and St. Johns.)

According to NOAA’s records, since 1851, the area has been hit only once by what may have been a major hurricane (but perhaps not – see “Tropical Storms and Hurricanes”, below, for details).  That was in 1880.  In the intervening one hundred and twenty-five years only one further hurricane of any intensity has been recorded – Hurricane Dora, which made landfall in St. Augustine in 1964 as a category two storm.  During the same period southeast Florida has had fifteen major hurricanes (category three and over), southwest Florida ten, and northwest Florida twelve.

This of course does not mean that the area cannot be hit by hurricanes – just that it has been hit by hurricanes much less often in the past than the rest of the state. There may be no coherent explanation for our good fortune, but a fairly stable set of conditions seems to be in place for us to have been so relatively protected over such a long period of time.  In this era of global warming, we may be entering a time of more intense hurricanes, but the experts are saying not necessarily more frequent hurricanes.


NOAA’s web site includes maps of tropical storms and hurricanes that have hit Florida since 1851. The early maps do not indicate intensity, but we gain some idea of that from narrative accounts, after 1921, that usually indicate wind speed (or, for the earliest, gale force numbers).  Drawing from that information and from much more detailed and precise charts from later records, we can construct the history given below.

Saffir-Simpson Scale

A word first about wind speeds. NOAA practice, and the Saffir-Simpson scale used by meteorologists to measure the intensity of hurricanes, lists the following categories:

Tropical depression: sustained wind speeds of no more than 55 mph.  Minimal damage.  Flooding from rains.

Tropical storm: sustained winds of 56 to 74 mph.  Minimal wind damage to structures.  Some damage to trees and shrubbery.   Increased danger of flooding from rains.

Category I: sustained wind speeds of 74 to 94 mph.  Produces a “storm surge of 4 to 5 feet…no real damage to building structures.  Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes” and shrubbery and trees.   Flooding from rains.

Category II: sustained wind speeds of 96-110 mph.  “Storm surge of 6 to 8 feet….some roofing material, door and window damage…Damage primarily to shrubs and trees, with some trees blown down.”  Possible flooding from storm surge.

Category III: sustained winds of 111-130 mph.  Storm surge 9-12 feet.  “Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings.  Extensive damage to shrubbery and trees.”  Dangerous flooding from storm surge.

Categories IV & V: sustained winds above 130 mph with severe damage to structures, very high storm surges, and often loss of life.

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes

NOAA’s archives list the following events that have hit the three coastal counties since 1851.

1880: A hurricane originating near the Yucatan Peninsula entered Florida somewhere north of Tampa, exiting the state near St. Augustine. The assertion that the area was hit by a major hurricane in 1880 is found in a chart, with no specifics.  (Indeed, the long passage over land would normally sap the hurricane’s strength.)

1921: A hurricane that entered the state at Key West exited the state  in the area.  While I find no wind speed indication as it passed through, it was over land for much of the length of the state. Even though the map indicates hurricane force winds for the entire transit, NOAA does not list it as a hurricane, and it seems therefore that before reaching our area they had weakened to less than hurricane category.

1925, 1926, 1930, 1934: One tropical storm (TS) in each of these years.  Winds less than 74 MPH.

1937, 1944, 1950: Two TS

1940, 1945: One TS

1960: A hurricane entered Florida at Ft. Myers at 90 kts (103 MPH), and exited through northeast Florida .  Again, a lengthy land passage trimmed wind speeds to TS strength.

1964: The eye of Hurricane Dora made landfall in St. Augustine.  According to one NOAA document the “first storm of full hurricane intensity to hit the area since 1885 (??)…first time in Weather bureau history full hurricane force winds have been recorded in Jacksonville (82 mph)”.  Twelve foot surge combining high tide and the storm surge crossed parts of Anastasia Island.  Damage was substantial. Electrical power was out for six days.  One person lost his life, though it is not clear where in the storm path that occurred.

1968: Hurricane David, moving from south to north along the coast, produced maximums of 68 MPH in Palm Coast and 67 MPH at Marineland.

1979: The eye of Tropical Storm David passed over New Smyrna.  Highest winds in Florida – 80 mph – were in the Melbourne area.

1981: One TS

2000: One TS

2002: Tropical Storm Edouard made landfall at Ormond Beach but was immediately downgraded to a tropical depression.

2004: Hurricane Charley reportedly produced maximum sustained winds in the area of 70 kts (80 MPH), though  NOAA did not list it here as a hurricane.  Hurricane Jeanne produced TS force winds in some areas of the coastal counties.



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