Late-Season Hurricanes: Don't Be Complacent

Hurricane Kate satellite (1985)
Posted at 9:43 AM, Jun 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-02 09:43:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- It's understandable that late in the hurricane season, when the first strong cold fronts of the fall bring waves of cool air and sensations of the holiday season, the thought of threatening late hurricanes and tropical storms gets shoved to the back of your mind.

However, history has taught us that November is not the time to be complacent about tropical storm and hurricane impacts.

Since 1963, there have been 17 tropical storms and hurricanes in the nearby Gulf, Caribbean, and Atlantic waters. Most of those systems stayed away from the U. S. mainland. Among the few that made landfall, the strongest was Hurricane Kate in 1985.

Kate just happened to set its landfall sights on the northeastern Gulf. The hurricane was in a weakening phase when it struck Mexico Beach on Nov. 21 at Category 2 status. While the storm's center tracked through Gadsden, Grady, and Colquitt counties, Kate spread wind and rain through a wide portion of the Big Bend and southern Georgia.

Though structural damage was limited, power outages triggered by downed trees were a major problem for days and even weeks.

Many October and November tropical systems tend to form in the Caribbean and the southwestern Atlantic. Storms that flirt with the Gulf can be drawn northward toward the coast of Florida by approaching cold fronts.

Only three major hurricanes -- Kate is one of them, prior to its north Florida landfall -- have occurred in the last 50 years. However, it doesn't take a major hurricane to disrupt the normal flow of life in autumn. That's why it's important to remain diligent and ready even in the waning weeks of the hurricane season. Nature doesn't always follow the calendar in the tropics.