Sunday Favorites: November Hurricanes are Rare in Florida History

Caption: Residents of Hialeah, Fla., attempt to gather a few remnants from what was once their home. Photo: Miami Springs Historical Society.
Caption: Residents of Hialeah, Fla., attempt to gather a few remnants from what was once their home. Photo: Miami Springs Historical Society.
Merab Favorite
Since folks began keeping records of hurricanes back in 1853, there have only been 76 hurricanes in the month of November. Of those, only two made landfall in Florida. Here's a historic look at the damage they caused.
 
When we think about Florida in November, we think about the arrival of snowbirds, not hurricanes. For storm-weary Floridians, dodging a hurricane this late in the year is almost unheard of. In fact, Nicole is only the third November hurricane to ever hit our shores. The previous ones were the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985, according to NOAA historical data.
 
1935 Hurricane Kate
 
Hurricane Kate created an estimated $300 million in damage when she struck the Florida Panhandle on November 21, 1985, one week before Thanksgiving. The category 2 storm made landfall near Mexico Beach with winds up to 100 mph.
 
Kate first passed to the southwest of Key West, producing winds just under 50 mph. High winds downed trees and power lines, leaving areas between Key West and Big Pine Key without power. At least three died during this part of the storm, one by electrocution, and two others drowned after their boat capsized, according to a 1985 report by the National Weather Service.
 
Floridians thought they had gotten off easy until a cold front moving across the Mississippi Valley resulted in Kate making a northeast turn and coming ashore in northern Florida. While moving ashore, Kate produced an 11 feet storm surge at Cape San Blas causing beach and dune erosion in Gulf County and flooding 150 houses in Wakulla County.
 
The hurricane damaged a bridge to St. George Island that had been rebuilt and large portions of U.S. Routes 90 and 98. It was just two months after another hurricane, Elena, had ravaged the Apalachicola Bay shellfish harvesting industry. Kate destroyed the remaining oyster beds, leaving many harvesters without jobs.
 
Kate was ranked one of the most destructive hurricanes of the late 20th Century. Overall, 15 people lost their lives. The hurricane also destroyed 325 homes along the panhandle, and about 500 buildings were severely damaged. Kate also left about 80,000 people without power in Tallahassee and in cities along the coast (from Panama City to Apalachicola).
 
The 'Yankee' Hurricane of 1935
 
On November 4, 1935, a hurricane hit Miami, from the northeast, an unusual pattern in most cases. Because it came from the north in the month of November, it was dubbed the "Yankee" hurricane, as it had the same route as many snowbirds at that time of year.
  
The storm surge and abnormally high tides flooded and eroded portions of Miami Beach, including the Miami Causeway. However, little structural damage occurred. In Hialeah, which had the most damage in the Miami area, approximately 230 homes suffered complete destruction, while many others sustained damage. Among the others buildings severely damaged or destroyed in the city included two churches, a building occupied by two businesses, and a warehouse.
 
At the time, Florida was still the agricultural hub of the U.S. The 1935 caused major damage to crops, uprooted 75 percent of avocado trees and 80 percent of citrus trees in the area, while floodwaters destroyed about 95 percent of potatoes in Miami-Dade County, according to a 1935 Miami Herald article called "Work of Repairing is Moving Forward".
 
In Broward County, the town of Dania Beach appeared to suffer the worst damage in the county, with approximately 90 percent of buildings damaged to some degree. Throughout the county, the hurricane damaged at least 40 homes beyond repairs, while over 350 homes suffered minor damages requiring repairs. A total of 5 deaths were reported, along with injuries to 115 people. The hurricane caused approximately $5.5 million in damage in Florida, $4.5 million of which was incurred to properties.
 
Now that the hurricane is over, we can focus on dodging traffic, and hope to heck we don't have to dodge any more hurricanes, at least this year. Fingers crossed!
 
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