DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The WKRG News 5 First Alert Storm Team is prepared for the second half of the Atlantic Hurricane season. With three named storms so far, we look back on how the biggest storms to impact Destin and the Okaloosa County coast were formed.
“Into October is when we see our highest activity, so don’t let your guard down, be sure you have your plan ready to go and in place, and your kit ready to go as well because it only takes one hurricane to make it an impactful season for you,” said WKRG Meteorologist Caroline Carithers.
The National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration has a very detailed tracker of historical hurricane data in the Atlantic going back to a Category 3 unnamed storm in 1851 making landfall in Panama City, Fla.
NOAA lists 97 storms in total on the tracker, 11 storms are listed in Category 3, 4 and 5 strengths.
Top storms to hit the Destin area:
|Category 5||Category 4||Category 3|
|Michael (Oct. 6- Oct. 15, 2018)||Dennis (July 4- July 18, 2005)||Elena (Aug. 28- Sept. 4, 1985)|
|X||Opal (Sept27-Oct 6, 1995)||Eloise (Sept. 13- Sept. 24, 1975)|
|X||Unnamed (Sept 11-Sept 22, 1926)||Unnamed (Oct. 1- Oct. 12, 1894)|
|X||Unnamed (Sept 20-Sept 30, 1917)||Unnamed (Sept. 2- Sept. 13,1882)|
|X||X||Unnamed (Sept. 31-Oct. 5, 1877)|
|X||X||Unnamed (Aug 16. – Aug. 27, 1851)|
The majority of these strong storms occur in the September and October months, Carithers said now is the time to stay prepared.
“The statistical peak of hurricane season, at least for the Atlantic Basin, is technically Sept. 10, so in August we usually see an uptick of activity, which we have seen and moving through August, September.”
Carithers said there are two ways a storm has the greatest impact on Okaloosa County beaches.
“One, if the eyewall of the storm moves over Destin. That is when you’ll see that wind damage. Specifically, that’s where the highest winds are in a tropical system, especially if it’s a mature tropical system,” said Carithers. “Now the other scenario is if you’re on the east side of the storm, we often call the east side of a tropical cyclone the ‘dirty side’ of the storm because tropical cyclones are low-pressure systems and low-pressure systems do rotate counterclockwise. So if you are on the east side of a counterclockwise rotating storm, you’re going to see the increased southerly flow, so that’s going to bring in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. And if you see increased southerly winds, you’re also going to see increased storm surge o that side of the storm.”
The most common and dangerous part of hurricanes along the Okaloosa County coast is the storm surge. Floods remain the top culprit for storm-related fatalities nationwide.
Along with NOAA’s detailed tracking map, National Weather Service in Mobile offers more data and insight into the past storms dating back to 1852.