How Common are Cat 5 Hurricanes in Florida?

Cat 5 hurricanes are extremely serious events when they happen, but they are thankfully rare. In fact, there have only ever been four recorded hurricanes that have hit land of this level in the entire living history of the USA. These storms are intense and extremely dangerous, threatening life, infrastructure, and well-being every time one comes to pass.

The First Cat 5 Hurricane in Florida

The very first incident of a Cat 5 hurricane landed in Florida in 1935. Known as the Labor Day hurricane, its devastation was felt rippling through the state and it touched thousands of residents. There were over 400 fatalities as a result of the 185MPH winds and there were more than 40 miles of destruction recorded at the time.

The Most Recent Cat 5 Event

Florida did not see another extreme weather event that ranked as highly as a Cat 5 until late 2018 when Hurricane Michael came to pass. Wind speeds did not quite match the Labor Day hurricane event, but they were still catastrophic and registered at around 160MPH. There were at least eight deaths as a direct result of this storm and the devastation was felt all over the state. Hurricane Andrew, which occurred in 1992, was briefly registered as a Cat 5 when it first landed in Florida but was downgraded as it traveled across the state. This too caused intense levels of destruction and chaos.

What Makes a Cat 5 Hurricane?

There are five different categories when it comes to ranking hurricane severity. Cat 5 is the most serious, and Cat 1 is the least serious, but still a significant weather event under any circumstances. To rank as a Cat 5, the wind must be registered at over 157 MPH.  This reach causes untold destruction and is extremely dangerous to human life. It can tear down buildings and disrupt basic infrastructure systems like electricity, internet connections, gas mains, and more.

Why Is Florida Vulnerable to Hurricanes?

Though there have only been a handful of the highest-ranking hurricanes, Florida has experienced more than its fair share of less serious weather events of this nature as well. There have been over one hundred recorded incidents since official records began back in the 1800s, and each one of them has brought unique consequences and turmoil to the state and its residents. While Floridians may be well versed in hurricanes, it doesn’t make dealing with this type of event any easier should it come to pass. So, what makes this state so vulnerable?


The simple, most straightforward answer is because of its location. Florida is situated in the Gulf of Mexico, close to the Caribbean. It has a warm climate and ocean and sees action from the heat-intensive African winds as well. All of this adds up to the perfect conditions for hurricanes to form over the Atlantic and make their way inland.

The Coastline

The size of Florida’s coastline means it is an easy target for hurricanes to land. There are two clear points of entry for the winds to gain momentum including the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, both of which cover over 1,000 miles in terms of coastline up and down the state.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane Event

If you live in Florida state, you will be no stranger to hurricane preparation. There are smart moves, but doing anything is better than just standing around and waiting for a weather event to hit. A lack of preparation increases the chance of property damage, injury, and even loss of life. So, it makes sense to dive into the process with open arms and get your life ready for the worst just in case. Cat 5 hurricanes are amongst the rarest in the world, but Florida has seen most of them come and go right on their doorstep.

Have a Hurricane Plan

The best thing you can do is have some kind of plan in place for when a hurricane warning is announced. There are dedicated channels for this type of thing, and these should always be watched closely just in case something sinister is coming. A plan should include what you are going to do when the warning is cast and how you will prepare your house if you opt to stay put until the storm passes.

Evacuation Measures

Get to know where the nearest official shelter is and make sure you know how you would get there with enough provisions in a serious weather event. Take precautionary measures to plan for flash flooding, because it is easier than you may realize to get trapped inland by flood water.

Prepare Provisions

It is also wise to have a stash of provisions in case of a storm. This should always include batteries, water, first aid, flashlights, portable chargers, extra clothing, non-perishable food items, sleeping equipment, and spare fuel to cover all the bases. Some people choose to take this further and invest in things like a generator and gas-powered cooking equipment for if (or when) the power goes out.

Take Care of Your House

It is impossible to lift your house up and move it away from the hurricane, so you have to get it ready instead. This includes putting shutters or similar on all of your windows, tying down any garden equipment, and securing the parameters wherever possible. Any tall trees in close proximity should be tended to, and it is wise to invest in a protective cover for your vehicle as well. Make sure any safe room you have built is fully equipped and in a safe enough location too.

How Common Are Cat 5 Hurricanes in Florida?

Thankfully, not very. However, Florida is the state most at risk of this kind of weather event, so it is best to be prepared at all times.

Storm Damage is the expert when it comes to all things hurricanes. We understand the devastation such an event can cause to homes and lives, and the team is here to help. Find our contact information below and get in touch if you need further legal input.

Visit our office here, 200 Lake Morton Drive, Suite 300, Lakeland, FL 33801.

Call us today for a free consultation on (833) 941-7867.


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