According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida ranks number eight on the list of the fastest-growing states in the country. With a 2023 population of more than 22 million, the rate of Florida’s growth surpasses that of both Arizona and South Carolina.
There are a lot of compelling reasons that one might move to the Sunshine State. Whether you’re drawn by the lack of state income tax, the gorgeous sunny weather, or the white sand beaches, Florida has proven to be one of the most popular destinations for Americans on the move.
However, living in Florida isn’t all sunshine and roses. Positioned on the southeastern tip of the United States and bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Florida is also the U.S. state that is most impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms.
If you’re thinking about moving to Florida, you might be wondering where the safest places to live in Florida from hurricanes are. For that reason, we’ve put together this list to help you understand which cities pose the smallest risk:
- Lake City
- Fernandina Beach
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Leesburg, Florida is considered one of the safest places in the state when it comes to the risk of hurricanes. It has a hurricane and tropical storm score of zero and it also has a low flood score. It is located in central Florida’s Lake County and has a population of more than 29,433 people.
The population of this town has increased in recent years because of retirees moving to Florida as well as Orlando residents seeking a quieter and less populated region. Located about 45 miles northwest of Orlando, Leesburg is a part of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Metropolitan statistical area.
Every year, this town hosts the Leesburg Bikefest in the spring. The motorcycle festival draws more than 250,000 visitors each year.
If you’re looking for hurricane-safe Florida cities, you’ll want to check out O-Town.
The largest city on our list is Orlando, which is home to more than 312,000 people. With the second-lowest combined hurricane, flood, and tropical storm score, Orlando is the city for you if you’re looking for an urban experience with a low risk of hurricanes.
Out of our list of the safest cities in Florida from hurricanes, Sanford is another example of a central Florida city that presents a low risk. Located in Seminole County and home to more than 60,000 residents, Sanford is a quaint town with old Victorian homes and brick-lined streets.
Community is one of the main focuses in this town. There are monthly street parties hosted here, jazz concerts held in Magnolia Square, and musicals and plays put on at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center.
Kissimmee is one of the 10 safest cities in Florida when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms. Located in Osceola County, this town is home to more than 79,000 residents. Not far from Orlando, this is a great place to live if you want to be close to the amenities of a city while also having access to the native wildlife and ecosystem of central Florida.
On our list of the safest place to live in Florida from hurricanes, Palatka is the smallest town. Home to about 10,500 residents, Palatka still manages to have a thriving culture. There are two popular annual festivals held at Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka, which are the Florida Azalea Festival and the Blue Crab Festival.
6. Lake City
Lake City receives a hurricane score of zero and therefore is one of the safest cities in Florida from hurricanes. It also has low scores when you look at flooding and tropical storms.
Located in north-central Florida, this city is home to more than 12,500 residents. There are several festivals held here each year, including the Alligator Warrior Festival and the Olustee Battle Festival. The former is an opportunity to see how residents lived in the area during the 19th century, while the former is a re-enactment of the Battle of Olustee.
Located in Collier County, Naples is the first coastal Florida city on our list of hurricane-safe Florida cities. With about 20,000 residents, Naples is a thriving and vibrant city that draws tourists from across Florida, the United States, and the world.
This is one of the wealthiest cities in the country and is also a popular place to retire. Both locals and residents enjoy the tropical and pleasant weather here as well as the beaches, land reserves, vineyards, art galleries, golf courses, and shopping opportunities.
You might expect that a coastal city like Naples wouldn’t be on the list of the least hurricane-prone Florida cities. However, there are atmospheric factors that combine with the shape of Florida’s landmass that make it much less likely for hurricanes to land here. Hurricanes are much more likely to make landfall to the south of this area and travel east across the state or to curve towards the north and strike on the northern portion of the Gulf Coast.
Ocala receives a hurricane score of zero and has low flood and tropical storm scores. With a little more than 65,000 people, this Marion County city is the eighth safest city in Florida from hurricanes.
If you’re thinking about moving to Florida, one of the primary draws might be that it is considered to be a more affordable state to live in. Check out our list of the most affordable places to live in Florida to learn more.
Gainesville is home to more than 141,000 residents and is located in Alachua County. With a hurricane score of zero, this city is considered the ninth safest place to live in Florida when it comes to hurricanes.
Like most college towns, Gainesville is a cultural center due to the presence of the University of Florida here. You can find the Harn Museum of Art, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Hippodrome State Theater, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts here. On top of that, there are musical, dance, and art shows put on by the University of Florida College of Fine Arts.
10. Fernandina Beach
This Nassau County city has low scores when it comes to floods, hurricanes, and tropical storms. The northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic coast, this city is located on Amelia Island. A part of Greater Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach is known as the “Isle of 8 Flags” because the flags of eight different nations have flown over it.
The population of this city is around 13,500 people.
Florida Hurricanes: What You Should Know
There are more tropical and subtropical cyclones that impact the state of Florida than any other state in the nation. There have only been eighteen hurricane seasons since 1851 when a hurricane or tropical storm didn’t impact Florida. There have been more than 10,000 deaths due to hurricanes during this time period in the state, however, most of them occurred before 1943 when hurricane hunter flights began.
So why is it that Florida is so frequently impacted by hurricanes?
There are a number of reasons that Florida deals with storms from hurricanes more often than other coastal states. One main reason is that hurricanes in the northern hemisphere typically begin in subtropical areas or tropical areas and then travel west-northwest, leaving Florida frequently in its path. Another primary reason is that the water temperatures on the east coast are more favorable to hurricane conditions, usually over 80 degrees, while the water temperature on the west coast rarely exceeds the low 70s
When hurricanes form in the Pacific tropical or subtropical waters, they tend to move west-northwest. This means that the landmasses that deal with the brunt of the impact are the Southeast Asian islands or china. If you’re interested in living on the coast but think you might prefer the Pacific coast of the U.S., check out the cheapest places to live in California.
What Happens During a Hurricane?
There are a number of serious hazards that come along with hurricanes striking a coastal area. These include high winds, heavy rains, a storm surge, and tornadoes.
High winds can cause a tremendous amount of damage during a hurricane. Hurricane-force winds can destroy mobile homes and buildings. It can make normal objects like roofing material, signs, and siding into flying missiles. The winds from a hurricane can maintain hurricane strength far inland from the coast.
Heavy rains can result in destructive and deadly floods during a tropical storm or hurricane. Flash flooding occurs when water levels rise rapidly, and long-term flooding can occur due to rivers and streams swelling from the rain.
Storm surges are phenomena that occur when the storm’s winds cause an abnormal rise in water level. These can span hundreds of miles of coastline and reach heights well over 20 feet.
A combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide can create what is known as storm tide. This is the water level rise that occurs during a storm.
Lastly, tornadoes can also be produced by tropical storms and hurricanes. These typically happen in thunderstorms that are embedded in rain bands quite some distance from the hurricane’s center. However, tornadoes can also form near the eyewall.
These tornadoes are typically short-lived and on the weaker side, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pose a serious threat.
What Are the Most Hurricane Prone Florida Cities?
When you look at the list of the worst places in the country for hurricanes, you’ll notice that regions of Florida dominate the list. Southeast Florida is considered the most likely place in the US to be hit by a major hurricane, while Key West, the Florida Keys, and Southwest Florida follow. Also on this list include West Florida, the central Florida Atlantic coast, and the Florida panhandle.
Florida isn’t the only US state that has to deal with hurricanes. Other places that are at high risk for hurricanes in the near future include
- The Outer Banks islands in North Carolina
- The Central Texas Gulf coast, the central Gulf coast
- The south Texas Gulf coast
According to a list of the places that have most frequently been impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes, Miami experiences storms more often than any other area in Florida. According to this data, Miami is hit or brushed by tropical storms and hurricanes every 1.96 years. That being said, there are plenty of lovely places to live in South Florida.
Cape Canaveral has a similar frequency with which it experiences these storms.
The Safest Places to Live in Florida from Hurricanes: Is One of These Locations Going to Be Your New Home?
If you’re looking for the safest places to live in Florida from hurricanes, this list can help guide your research into safe Florida communities. The rankings on our list are based on a number of different factors. These include the number of storm events in each city, storm-related property damage, storm-related deaths, and storm-related injuries between the years of 1965 and 2014.
It’s important to understand that the cities on this list are not in any way guaranteed to be safe from tropical storms. Florida is a coastal state, and its location makes it the most impacted state in the country by hurricanes and tropical storms. That being said, some cities tend to receive fewer pummelings than others.
Millions of people live happily in Florida, and the risk of hurricanes likely shouldn’t spoil your plans for tropical living entirely. However, it’s important to understand the risks of hurricanes and tropical storms so you can be prepared and plan accordingly.
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