Florida may dodged the worst of Hurricane Dorian, but the Sunshine State still deals with a lot of Mother’s Natures dangers. What are the odds that living or visiting in Florida might mean a Dorothy-like ride in a hurricane or a playful nip from an alligator or Jaws?
Forget all the Florida jokes. Never mind that every weird crime story begins – ‘a man in Florida.’ There are some real threats in the Sunshine State, most of them brought to you my Mother Nature. Starting with Jaws. The last two years has seen a spike in shark/human encounters. New Smyrna beach has become the Shark Bite Capital of the World. But just how likely are you to get nipped by a shark wading in Florida waters?
The math is a bit tricky because of all the tourists that swell the Florida population. Also hidden in the stats is the fact that most people, day in and day out, simply do not go in the water. But given that, looking at dozens of ‘authoritative sources’ it would seem that you really have a very, low chance of being dinner or even a small nibble to a shark. How low?
In Florida waters, a swimmer, bather, snorkelers, scuba diver, surfer or kayaker you have approximately a 1 in 2,000,000 opportunity to be bitten by a shark. Florida actually trails Hawaii, where a potential shark bite comes in at 1 in 600,000.
If you live in Florida your home will be in the path of a hurricane, on average, once every seven years. Evacuation is always an option for Florida residents but hopefully the house stays put. The odds are a bit higher the further south you live. The odds are, of course, higher on both the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts — and no wonder, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state absorbs 40% of all American hurricane direct hits.
The Atlantic ocean side of the state has a slightly higher incidence of hurricane hits than the Gulf coast. In either case, inland is safer and dryer. So one in every seven years you get really wet in Florida but what about the really big category 5 storms?
1935 The ‘Labor Day’ hurricane. Before storms got names, this was at the time the strongest storm to hit the U.S. There was much less warning in the 30s, the storm caused over 400 fatalities.
1969 Camille came on shore in the Florida panhandle at a full-fledged cat. 5 storm.
1992 Andrew may be the most costly storm ever (adjusted for inflation).
2005 Wilma hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico before turning north and hitting South Florida as a weakened category 3.
2005 Katrina hit New Orleans as a massive cat. 5 storm but often we forget that first Katrina crossed Florida as a cat. 1 storm before gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico before the direct hit on Louisiana.
But in Florida, it comes down to picking your poison. A hurricane every seven years, a shark bite once every several lifetimes or a gator bite almost never unless you just aren’t paying attention and step on one.