The Most Hurricane-Prone U.S. States

The Most Hurricane-Prone U.S. States

Depending on where you live, your experience with hurricanes may be confined to movie screens. But for people who live in the southeast and along the East Coast, these deadly storms are an unfortunate reality.

Since 1851, since records started being kept, Florida has been the victim of 117 direct hits by hurricanes – this is a lot more than any other state, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division.

Many people think that hurricanes only affect places along the Gulf of Mexico, but in reality they can reach as far north as Maine. Part of the reason why northern states are not in a hurricane's path so often is because they usually weaken as they reach colder waters.

The peak of the hurricane season is approaching – the period from June 1 to Nov. 30. Late August through September tends to see the most activity.

10. Virginia – 12

Located north of states that are usually in the way of hurricanes, Virginia isn't immune to them. Twelve hurricanes have directly hit the state since 1851. One of those was considered major (Category 3). Do you know the states you're most likely to get struck by lightning?

9. New York - 12

Farther north than most other states threatened by hurricanes, New York isn't out of reach for destructive storms. Twelve hurricanes directly hit the state. One of those hurricanes was considered major (Category 3) in Virginia and five in New York. When the city gets hit by even minor hurricanes, the damage can be disastrous. With a huge population and at-risk infrastructure (high rises, suspension bridges and underground tunnels), storms touching down in NYC tend to be costly.

8. Mississippi - 16

With coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, this southern state has been vulnerable to major hurricanes throughout history. Mississippi has suffered 16 direct hits, eight of which were considered major hurricanes and one of which was a Category 5 hurricane—the most severe rating. The Category 5 storm hit in 1969 and was called Camille. It's described by the National Weather Service as "the second most intense hurricane of record to hit the United States."

7. Georgia - 21

This state just north of Florida has been lucky, avoiding many disastrous hurricanes for many years. According to the Associated Press, Georgia enjoyed more than a century without a major hurricane, but in the 1800s, the state was hit hard and often. Since 1851, Georgia has been directly hit by 21 hurricanes, only three of which were major storms. In 2016, Irma left a trail, and in October 2016, Category 2 Hurricane Matthew raked along the coast. It didn't make landfall but it still caused a lot of damage and flooding.

6. Alabama - 23

This southern state has a small stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, which means hurricanes are a problem. In 2004 and 2005, the state suffered the effects of multiple major hurricanes—namely Ivan, Dennis and Katrina. Alabama has been directly hit by 23 hurricanes and six of those were considered Category 3.

5. South Carolina - 32

Set on the East coast, South Carolina has seen the effects of hurricanes more than a few times. In recent history, the state has avoided major, destructive storms, but it hasn't always been that way. South Carolina has been directly hit by 32 hurricanes – included Irma in 2017 – two of those were reportedly Category 4. By the time Irma reached the state, it was a massive tropical storm.

4. North Carolina - 51

With a professional hockey team named after these storms, you know North Carolina has a history dealing with hurricanes. The state has been directly hit by 51 hurricanes, 11 of which were Category 3 and one was Category 4. The worst hurricane for North Carolina came in September of 1999; Hurricane Floyd was responsible for the death of 52 people and left $6 billion in damage. Hurricane Matthew killed 31 people in North Carolina when it hit in October 2016.

3. Louisiana - 55

"Some of the deadliest tropical storms and hurricanes to ever hit the United States have struck the Louisiana shoreline," reads a report by David Roth at the NWS. The one that comes to mind immediately is, of course, Hurricane Katrina. Prior to Katrina, Louisiana was directly hit by 49 hurricanes and 18 of them were considered major. Until 2017, the state was hit by 55 hurricanes with two – Nate in October and Harvey in August– last year alone.

2. Texas – 64

Home to "the deadliest weather disaster in United States history"—the Galveston Hurricane, recorded in 1900, hit the coast of Texas and continued on through the state, reportedly killing between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Including that very deadly storm, Texas has seen 64 hurricanes and 20 of those were considered major storms. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey, which was Category 4, killed 103 people in Texas.

1. Florida - 117

Since 1851, the state has been directly hit by 117 hurricanes. Hurricane Irma made landfall on Cudjoe Key as a Category 4, and then made a second landfall on Marco Island. Irma killed 80 people. In September 2016, Category 1 Hermine made landfall before weakening into a tropical storm. Before that, the Sunshine State made it a record 11 years without a hurricane making landfall.