One of the most destructive natural hazards in Florida is the tropical cyclone. These moving low pressure center systems generally form in the tropics and are noted for their counter-clockwise wind rotation accompanied by significant precipitation. Tropical cyclones with sustained wind speeds greater than 38 mph are assigned names by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center. Those with internal winds ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph are considered “tropical storms”; those with sustained winds above 74 mph at the “eye” are “hurricanes”.
Tropical cyclones can spawn tornadoes, storm surge, and inland flooding. Based upon the storm intensity, the impacts can vary from minor structural damage to catastrophic destruction; with damage to non-hardened facilities being much more likely.
The number 1 killer in tropical cyclone events is surge flooding. Surge is the extra storm water pushed onto land by tropical cyclone winds. Normal Tide + Surge = Storm Tide (sometimes called Storm Surge) It doesn’t just come up gradually; it’s large forceful waves, much higher than normal, that can easily wash away vehicles, homes, flora, and fauna.