Busy Atlantic hurricane season leaves its mark on Florida

By Juli Marquez, Bay News 9 Meteorologist
Last Updated: Thursday, December 01, 2016, 6:20 AM EST

Today is the last day of hurricane season. We started with a rare January hurricane, Alex, and we ended the season with Hurricane Otto which made landfall in Nicaragua on November 24.

Today is the last day of hurricane season. We started with a rare January hurricane, Alex, and we ended the season with Hurricane Otto which made landfall in Nicaragua on November 24.

This year there were 15 named storms and 7 hurricanes. There were 3 major hurricanes: Gaston, Matthew and Nicole. Category 5 Matthew was the strongest one. It was an above-average season.

Here in Tampa Bay, we were impacted by Tropical Storm Colin in the first week of June. While it stayed out in the Gulf of Mexico, we had rough surf, some coastal flooding and strong winds. Clearwater Beach reported a wind gust to 49 mph.

We will also remember Hurricane Hermine. It made landfall just east of St. Marks, Florida in the early morning hours of September 2nd with winds of 80 mph. Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

It brought a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet to parts our coast from Manatee County to Citrus County. The storm surge was 7.5 feet at Cedar Key. There was heavy rainfall (6 inches to more than 20 inches of rain in some spots) and strong wind gusts in Tampa Bay. Indian Shores had a wind gust of 78 mph. St. Petersburg reported a wind gust of 63 mph and Tampa had a wind gust of 46 mph.

You might not remember Tropical Storm Julia which formed near Jacksonville on September 13 but it was an unusual storm since it formed over land, not over water.  

Then there was Hurricane Matthew. As it moved toward the east coast of Florida, close to 2 million people in our state were ordered to evacuate.

Although the center of Matthew stayed just offshore, there was a wind gust of 107 mph on the tip of Cape Canaveral on the morning of October 7. Fernandina Beach in Nassau County reported a peak water level of 6.91 feet. This ranks as the third highest water level recorded there, above Hurricanes Dora and Jeanne.  There was also more than 8 inches of rain in some areas.

Here in the Tampa Bay region, we had some wind gusts to 35 to 45 mph. There were some trees knocked down, including in Polk County, but most of our area had no damage. We did, however, close the schools in our area to open shelters for people here and for people coming to our area from the east coast.

Here are the number of people who stayed in our shelters during Hurricane Matthew:

Polk County: 650 people
Hillsborough County: Approximately 165 people. There were also 8 dogs and 2 cats at a shelter that was pet-friendly.
Manatee County: About 275 people
Pinellas County: 29 people
Hernando County: Approximately 25 people. It was about an even split between Hernando County residents and Melbourne/Orlando residents.
Pasco County: The hurricane shelter at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel sheltered 7 people and 1 dog.
Citrus County: 21 people and 2 pets.  There were also 5 people in a special needs shelter.
We will start our Tropical Update again on Bay News 9 on June 1, 2017. Until then, enjoy the break!

Here are the names, dates and maximum wind speeds we had in this year's Atlantic hurricane season:

Name

Date

Wind speed

Hurricane Alex

January 12-15

85 mph

Tropical Storm Bonnie

May 27-June 4

45 mph

Tropical Storm Colin

June 5-7

50 mph

Tropical Storm Danielle

June 19-21

45 mph

Hurricane Earl

August 2-6

80 mph

Tropical Storm Fiona

August 17-23

50 mph

Major Hurricane Gaston

August 22-September 3

120 mph

Tropical Depression 8

August 28-September 1

35 mph

Hurricane Hermine

August 28-September 3

80 mph

Tropical Storm Ian

September 12-16

60 mph

Tropical Storm Julia

September 13-19

40 mph

Tropical Storm Karl

September 14-25

70 mph

Tropical Storm Lisa

September 19-25

50 mph

Major Hurricane Matthew

September 28-October 9

160 mph

Major Hurricane Nicole

October 4-18

130 mph

Hurricane Otto

November 21-25

110 mph