A message from Chief Meteorologist Jim Farrell

Published: Updated:

Is it better to be lucky than good?

I’m not sure but I do know that we were lucky again last year.

Last hurricane season was an active one with 15 tropical storms, 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

Despite above average activity, SW Florida was spared once again. Of the 4 major hurricanes last year, none of them made landfall in Florida or in the United States. The last major hurricane to do so remains Wilma in 2005 when it crossed the SW Florida coastline on October 24 of that year.

Let’s not forget that hurricane Matthew was almost a land falling major hurricane last year when it passed 12 miles to the east of Melbourne Florida on October 6. Despite staying offshore, Matthew created a 7 foot storm surge at Fernandina Beach, hurricane force wind of 77 mph at Cape Canaveral and 10 inches of rain from St Augustine to Jacksonville.

Meanwhile in SW Florida, Matthew only dropped .23 inches of rain in Ft. Myers and wind gusts to near 40 mph in eastern Hendry and Highlands counties. Nevertheless, Matthew is in the record books as the first category 5 hurricane since 2007 and the strongest hurricane of 2016 with 160 mph wind.

Here’s a hypothetical situation: what if the atmospheric steering currents were a little different in October of 2016?

What if Matthew was pushed 150 miles farther west and entered the Gulf of Mexico? Our weather would have been significantly more dangerous as it always will be with a land falling major hurricane, like Donna, Charley and Wilma.

A land falling hurricane will always be my biggest fear.

While hurricanes that parallel the east coast like Matthew or cross the state like Andrew are problematic, it’s the hurricane that moves from the Gulf towards SW Florida that causes the highest storm surge and the most destruction.

Will we have a land falling hurricane this year? No one knows. The best we can say is that since there should be neither a strong El Nino (below average activity), or a strong La Nina (above average activity), 2017 should feature near normal activity.

Regardless of any predictions of what this year will bring I want you and your family to get ready. Look through this guide and keep it handy in case a tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane arrives this year.

Don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency because SW Florida has been lucky since 2005.

Let’s be good, educated and prepared in 2017!

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