June 1, 2017 marks the beginning of hurricane season. Unlike the joyful celebrations that follow spring, summer, winter or fall, hurricane season is not generally met with fanfare. The six-month long 2017 Atlantic hurricane seasons has kicked off and is forecast to be more active than historical averages with regard to the number of named storms.
Unfamiliar with hurricanes? Let us explain more about these powerful forces of nature. A hurricane begins when a tropical cyclone forms. The tropical cyclone is composed of rotating low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts. This system creates a boundary that separates two air masses of different densities. Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 miles per hour (mph) are called tropical depressions. Those with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms.
When a tropical cyclone’s sustained winds reach 74 mph, the storm is now known as a hurricane. Hurricanes are measured using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale which uses 1 to 5 rating, or category, based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained winds. The higher the category, the greater the hurricane’s potential for property damage.
Though hurricane season occurs from June-November every single year, our corner of Southwest Florida has been spared from a major hurricane for over 10 years. The last extremely destructive hurricane was known as “Charley”. This storm clocked in at a category 4 with peak wind speeds reaching approximately 150 mph as it made direct impact with nearby Captiva Island. After the storm there was approximately 16.3 billion dollars’ worth of damage in Fort Myers Beach and the surrounding areas.
If you’re planning to visit during hurricane season, there is no need to worry! The chances of a hurricane forming and striking our specific area of Florida, more namely, Fort Myers Beach is not extremely high and if a storm were to make landfall, our area and the rest of the state of Florida have an excellent hurricane preparedness plan that establishes clear safety guidelines for our community to follow before a hurricane hits.
Though these storms may seem frightening, just as we do with daily thunderstorms, our team always operates within the guidelines of strict safety practices to ensure our guests stay safe and of course, enjoy a wonderful time on the water!
Have additional questions about hurricanes? Reach out to your tour guide! As Floridians, we all have a few stories to tell!