September is high-hurricane season along the east coast, and Florida wears a giant “Kick Me” sign. But that’s no reason to avoid the Sunshine State in September. The danger posed by a Category 2 or higher hurricane cannot be minimized, but it’s highly unlikely that:
- one will hit Florida the week you’re here;
- or if it does, directly smite Central Florida;
- or if it does, do major damage after weakening over land;
- or if does, actually harm anyone;
- or if does, actually impact a tourist.
Hurricanes tend to last perhaps 24 hours, providing they don’t stall. (Important note, however: There is no single “hurricane.” They can be large or small, fast or slow.) If a major storm does hit, the days before and after tend to be exceedingly pleasant and sunny as the storm draws moisture out to sea.
Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, but storm activity peaks from mid-August to mid-October. Again, take hurricane warnings seriously; but if planning a late summer/early fall trip, keep the following in mind:
- You can’t avoid a hurricane. They hit anywhere from Canada to Miami to Texas. Every Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico beach is iffy
- You can’t predict where a hurricane will land. If a storm is three days out at sea, it could hit the Keys, North Carolina, or nothing. Even within a few hours of impact, experts cannot definitively gauge where the hurricane’s eye (center of highest winds) will strike. A last-minute change of vacation plans doesn’t make sense unless you opt for Kansas City.
- If experiencing a hurricane, stay inside. Trees come down; power lines break; hail falls. It’s not “just a tad worse than last summer’s thunderstorm.” Hurricanes also spawn tornadoes that touch down like little
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- Pack ponchos – not umbrellas. (You don’t kill a dragon with a toothpick.)
- For up-to-date info, check The Weather Channel or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In recent memory, only one hurricane slammed Central Florida – Hurricane Charley in 2004 made landfall in Southwest Florida. Charley was small and moved quickly, so it still had perhaps a Category 1 punch when it hit the Orlando area. Actual destruction occurred in a narrow line less than a mile wide, generally on the western side of the city. The path of major wind tore up a few roofs, trees, and stress levels.
Even so, tourism was back on track 24 hours later. Some local residents spent a week waiting for power to return, and many weeks cleaning up. No one died, and most injuries were of the heart-attack-while-cleaning variety.