Where Do Hurricanes Strike?


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Where do hurricanes occur?

As this busy hurricane season reaches its halfway point, it would be nice to know—where do hurricanes occur most and where are you most safe?

It turns out that that is a major question. Not even Las Vegas, Nevada is totally safe! And if you live in Florida, forget about it. 


From 1842 to 2012, tropical storms (green) and hurricanes (purple through yellow) have battered large areas throughout North America. Source: NOAA

As the map above shows, the US, east of the Mississippi is the parade ground of tropical storms. Notice: this is actual named storms. This map would not show the New Jersey landfall of Hurricane Sandy because, by the time Sandy landed, it was no longer tropical, just stormy. However, the West has not been totally safe. San Diego was pounded by a hurricane in 1858 and tropical storms have invaded the Southwest Desert.

A less attractive (and focused) FEMA map breaks storm hits by county. The dark regions have been trampled by 65 to 141 storms, blue counties had 29 to 64 hits and yellow had less than 29. Check to see how safe your county is.


It’s not perfect but this FEMA map shows 161 years of where hurricanes and tropical storms hit.

Note that the data for this map goes back to the 1800s for the eastern U.S. but only as far back as 1949 in the West.

What the map shows is that the U.S. coast from South Texas to Southeast Virginia is a playground for hurricanes and Florida is where they live. Indeed, this year Tropical Storm Julia formed OVER Jacksonville, Florida. That’s right. The tropical storm formed over LAND. It was the first time a tropical storm was created over land since TS. Beryl originated over Southeast Louisiana in 1988.


The odds of any 50 miles of coastline being hit by a hurricane Source: NHC/TPC

Let’s translate this data. What are the odds, every year, that a hurricane will hit some part of the US coast? Florida, with its long coast is the Number 1 target, followed by South Texas.

Only 10 of the fifty states have not been hit by a tropical storm and most of them have to endure blizzards, hardly an improvement. 


Alaska was hit by a non-tropical cyclone blizzard with winds of 122 mph. Source: CIRA

So fasten your seatbelts, my friends. We’re in for a bumpy ride.



~ By  Evelyn Browing Garriss and James J. Garriss

About This Blog

Evelyn Browning Garriss doesn't just blog about the weather forecast; she provides insight on WHY extreme weather is happening--and a heads up on weather to watch out for. A historical climatologist, Evelyn blogs about weather history, interesting facts about the weather, and upcoming climate events that affect your life--from farming to your grocery bill. Every week, we look forward to another great weather column from Evelyn. We encourage our weather watchers to post their comments and questions--and tell us what they think!


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i don't think we should not have hurricanes ever again it has been killing people everyyear
just take hurricanes away forever.

greg jackson

Unfortunately, this has been

Unfortunately, this has been a deadly year with every storm except Flora and Ian affecting land. As a weather addict, I always hope for a huge interesting storm that trudges down the middle of the Atlantic without hurting anyone. Hopefully the rest of this season will be safer.

Thanks So Much, Ms Evelyn :)

Thanks So Much, Ms Evelyn :) ,
I love your blogs/webpages/articles, they are always relevant for me! Also, fun to read and easy to understand for this weather newbie (me) !!!

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your kind comment. Most of the time, as a consultant, I have to be very scientific when I write about weather. For the Almanac, I can just enjoy sharing how interesting and fun it is to watch and understand the weather.

Here's hoping the hurricanes don't bother you or those you care about.

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