The dreaded hurricane season is here once more.
But in Jacksonville, we seldom have a direct hit from a hurricane or tropical storm. The last hurricane to make landfall in Jacksonville was Dora in 1964, and the last tropical storm to come ashore from the east in our area was Tropical Storm Tammy.
So, is Jacksonville somehow protected from hurricanes? It seems so, considering that Jacksonville is historically the least likely coastal city in Florida to experience a hurricane.
We can thank Jacksonville’s unique geography along with the science of hurricanes for our seemingly good luck. On the westernmost point of the East Coast, Jacksonville is located in an area somewhat protected from hurricane attacks from the Atlantic Ocean.
Another factor keeping Jacksonville safer from direct hurricane hits is the propensity of tropical storms to follow the Gulfstream, a large current of warm water that flows off the east coast of Florida. While the Gulfstream is only a few miles from land in South Florida, near Jacksonville it is nearly 80 miles from the coast.
In addition, the recurvature effect, which according to Hurrnet is “the tendency of hurricanes to turn toward the northeast as they enter the midlattitudes, and eventually curve back out to sea,” favors the Jacksonville area.
One more stroke of good fortune for Jacksonville is that the strongest side of a hurricane is typically the right side, so a storm approaching from the Atlantic Ocean that skirts the coast would have its weakest side affecting us.
Don’t let these factors make you complacent. It’s not impossible for Jacksonville to take a direct hit from a hurricane.
Make sure your hurricane kit is up to date. Stay vigilant and pay attention to the weather forecast. And follow any directions to evacuate.