South Beach is tropical in nature. The dry season is through the winter months when it rarely rains and the weather is near perfect. The wet season coincides with hurricane season generally. It Begins in May and runs through October. During this period it is not at all unusual for it to rain every single day. www.travelrows.com
Hurricane season runs from June-November. Hurricanes are very large weather systems so when one is said to have ‘hit’ a particular city or county, that doesn’t mean that only that county or that city were affected. The truth is when a Hurricane hits south Florida, all of south Florida is affected to some degree.
Hurricanes evolve. They begin as a low pressure system and grow stronger as they become better organized. Hurricanes that hit Florida are spinning counter clock wise. There are a variety of forces that determine the speed and direction of a hurricane. The wind speed in the upper right quadrant of a hurricane is always greater than in the other quadrants.
Some people believe that wind speed is the most destructive component of a hurricane but in low-lying areas the most destructive (and most dangerous) component is the storm surge.
Storm surge is defined as, “Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the hurricane.” Nine out of ten fatalities associated with hurricanes are caused by the storm surge.
South Florida has seen its share of hurricanes over the years….some say more than its share. Long before hurricanes were being given human names, they were hitting South Florida. Some of the unnamed storms that did a great deal of damage and are considered the worst of the worst are:
1919: The eye of the storm passed over Key West but all of South Florida, including South Beach was affected. The storm claimed at least 800 lives in the sparsely populated area.
1926: The hurricane of 1926 is often referred to as the ‘Big Blow’. The eye of the storm passed directly over South Beach…and of course over Miami as well. The 1926 storm is credited with inflicting more property damage than any other storm in history and as many as 800 people died. It is also considered to be directly responsible for the collapse of the Florida land boom and catapulted South Florida into the Great Depression three years ahead of the rest of the nation.
1928: This hurricane is called the Okeechobee hurricane. At first officials refused to even acknowledge the storm or that any damage had been done because the area was still suffering from the financial devastation caused by the hurricane of 1926. The eye of the storm passed over Key West but the majority of property damage and loss of life occurred when Lake Okeechobee overflowed and dikes failed.
Named storms that did the greatest amount of property damage and caused the greatest loss of life are:
- 1960: Donna
- 1964: Cleo
- 1965: Betsy
- 1992: Andrew
- 2004: Frances
- 2004: Jeanne
- 2005: Wilma