Hurricane season marked by deadly Ian, destructive Nicole

The six-month hurricane season will end Wednesday.

A collapsed wall of a beachfront apartment building in the aftermath of Hurricane Nicole at Daytona Beach, Florida, on Nov. 11, 2022.

A collapsed wall of a beachfront apartment building in the aftermath of Hurricane Nicole at Daytona Beach, Florida, on Nov. 11, 2022. Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

With the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season ending next week, state officials are looking at potential changes after Florida got hit by its deadliest storm in nearly nine decades.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, announced last week he has created a select committee to consider issues related to recovering from this year’s Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole and to look at “lessons learned to achieve best practices for future storms.”

The six-month hurricane season will end Wednesday. While the early part of the season was relatively quiet, the Category 4 Hurricane Ian devastated parts of Southwest Florida and swept across the state at the end of September. Category 1 Nicole hit the East Coast this month.

Weather and disaster-relief experts hope Ian and Nicole will help spur people in the future to look beyond forecast cones that indicate potential storm paths and to be aware of local maps of flood-prone areas.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said one change could be providing a secondary storm-path cone focused on storm surge.

“We've got to figure out the storm-surge issue and how we communicate storm surge better in the future because (for Ian) storm-surge warnings were out from the Florida Keys all the way up through Apalachicola Bay,” Guthrie said. “How do we more effectively communicate watches, warnings and evacuations around storm surge.”

Numerous questions were raised about Ian evacuations, after initial forecasts indicated the storm could hit the densely populated Tampa Bay area. The storm ended up making landfall Sept. 28 in Lee and Charlotte counties.

Kelly Godsey, a National Weather Service senior hydrologist and meteorologist in Tallahassee, said he anticipates a possible slight revision in the track code indicating the potential path of storms.

“Is it going to be significant changes? Almost certainly not,” Godsey said. “I think what we want to make sure that people understand, again, is that you know, the track code follows where the center of the storm is going to go. … And I think that's a message that we’ll continue to spread each and every season. As we did this season. And we'll do this in the oncoming season to remind folks that impacts from tropical systems extend well outside the cone and will have impacts that extend many, many miles inland.”

During the 2022 season, the Atlantic was quiet throughout August for the first time in 15 years. But with Nicole, the season also produced only the third hurricane to hit Florida in November since such records started to be collected in 1853.

In between was Ian, which as of last tally had caused 139 confirmed deaths, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. That is the highest death toll in Florida from a storm since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, which killed more than 400 people.

Nicole made landfall Nov. 10 south of Vero Beach before crossing the state as a tropical storm. The state has had five confirmed deaths from Nicole, which chewed up parts of the shoreline from Palm Beach to the Georgia border.

Ian storm caused tens of billions of dollars in property damage, hammered the already-struggling citrus industry and caused widespread flooding.

Estimated insured losses from Ian have steadily increased and were at $10.27 billion as of last week, according to the state Office of Insurance Regulation. The state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has estimated its costs from Ian at $3.8 billion.

By comparison, Category 5 Hurricane Michael, which hit the Panhandle in 2018, resulted in $9.1 billion in estimated insured losses. Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 system that ran up the state in 2017, produced more than $20.6 billion in losses.

Amid massive recovery efforts, Guthrie said Southwest Florida “looks 10 times better than what it did” days after the storm’s landfall.

Still, getting churches, schools and businesses back to what could be considered a new normal in the hardest-hit areas could take another 12 to 18 months, he said.

“Some of those are coming back online. For instance, in Fort Myers Beach they’ve got about four restaurants back up and running,” Guthrie said of the tourism-dependent community that sustained heavy damage.

But some professional office buildings in the same area face complete reconstruction.

“I was talking to someone about physician offices just yesterday,” Guthrie said. “Those physician offices are leased buildings, and we're going to have to get those buildings in there rebuilt before those physicians on Fort Myers Beach can actually get back into their offices. We're trying to work out some temporary facilities right now.”

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has estimated Ian inflicted $1.18 billion to $1.9 billion in damage to Florida’s agriculture industry, with more than a third of the damage tied to the citrus industry.

Overall, the 2022 season, which started June 1, produced 16 depressions, 14 storms, and eight hurricanes. Two of the hurricanes were Category 3 or stronger.

Experts predicted 14 to 21 storms before the season started. Also, this year’s number was lower than during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, both of which exhausted the 21 designated storm names.

Godsey called 2022 a “climatological normal season” based on 30 years of activity. While not diminishing the importance of Ian, Godsey said the season’s most-unique aspect was the mid-July to September lull, a result of dry African air masses that prevented any storm activity in August for the first time in more than 15 years.

Before the lull, Florida had already been affected by a storm. A disorganized system crossed South Florida in June, days after the season started and formed into Tropical Storm Alex north of Grand Bahama Island.

This is a free News Service of Florida story for City & State Florida readers. For more of the most comprehensive and in-depth political and policy news, consider a subscription, beginning with a 10-day free trial. Click here to sign up!

NEXT STORY: Evictions, high rent: Renters in South Florida continue to struggle

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.