The 5 Biggest Hurricanes in the History of Florida

Florida is a beautiful state that’s popular with visitors for a lot of reasons. There are miles of beautiful sandy beaches and blue water. Disney World is in Florida, of course, along with the iconic Mickey Mouse and a whole cast of supporting characters. In Miami there’s a bustling nightlife, and of course you can’t forget the alligator-infested swamps, if that’s your thing. That’s just touching the tip of the iceberg – there are even hidden gems like the sparsely-populated Levy County. All of these things are great reasons to visit, but there’s one serious reason to stay away, at least for part of the year. Florida is also known for its hurricane season and it’s not something you want to experience. The people of southern Florida have lived through a lot of hurricanes throughout history, and here are five of the most infamous to hit the state since 1960.

Oh, Donna

In 1960, man had yet to walk on the moon and the Beatles hadn’t yet landed in the U.S. Big flashy cars with futuristic fins were the rage, and rock ‘n’ roll was in its infancy. It was also the year that Hurricane Donna hit the Florida Keys – hard. This was one of the most mighty storms in recorded history, with powerful sustained winds that retained hurricane force from Florida all the way up the coast to New England. If you can picture 13-foot wave surges smashing against the Florida coast, you’ll have a good picture of what this storm was all about. It caused a lot of damage and loss of life.

Cleo the Menace

It didn’t take long for another powerful storm to pound the Florida coastline. In 1964, just a year after the U.S. was shocked by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Hurricane Cleo menaced Floridian shores. Unfortunately, there was no loud warning signal which you currently automatically get on your motorbike, or any form of pre-warning for that matter. In fact, it was years before CNN hit the airwaves, so the storm did a lot of damage before people knew what hit them. There were power disruptions all over the state, and numerous fires caused by downed power lines. The impact on Florida’s economy was shattering and it took it a long time for the state to recover.

Charley Wasn’t So Friendly

Some names just have a friendly ring to them and I’d count Charley among them, but in 2004 when hurricane Charley hit the southern U.S. no one in Florida thought it was too friendly. This was one of the largest hurricanes that they’d seen in years; it was a powerful category 4 storm when it made landfall. This monster struck in northwest Florida – not in the Tampa area as predicted – and the local residents were caught off guard. The end result was billions of dollars in damages and at least 10 deaths that could definitely be attributed to the storm.

The Might of Frances

What made Hurricane Frances so hard for the sturdy Floridian population to deal with was that it came just a few short weeks after Charley. They’d barely had time to catch their breath and they were faced with another life-threatening disaster. Mother Nature can sometimes be cruel, and she definitely showed her destructive side on that day in 2004. It had nowhere near the power of the other storms on this list, but it was a heck of a lot bigger – this storm was so large that every resident of the state of Florida felt its impact. The satellite images shown on new channels were awe-inspiring.

Wilma’s Path of Destruction

Any fan of the Flintstone cartoon series is familiar with Wilma, the lovable wife of the star Fred Flintstone. Hurricane Wilma was nothing like this lovable cartoon character. This was the last major storm to tear through Florida and it did its fair share of damage. Images on the major networks showed massive neon signs flying down major streets. The financial cost of this storm was more than $16 billion dollars.