Have you ever been caught in a storm?

This is a digital supplement and preview to the in-person temporary exhibit which will open on January 5, 2021.

Hurricanes on the Florida Coast

A hurricane is an intense circular storm also called a typhoon or tropical cyclone. Hurricanes originate over warm, tropical oceans during the steamy summer months. These low-pressure systems contain strong winds and heavy rains. Long trails of devastation are visible in the areas affected by hurricanes.

Hurricanes come and go, but their stories continue to live on.

The Science of Hurricanes

Unnamed Hurricane aka Miami Hurricane, September 1926

Vacationers and new residents flocked to Miami in the 1920s. The city exploded as acres of hotels and neighborhoods replaced wetlands. The boom busted when a Category 4 hurricane hit the coast on September 18th. Within twelve hours, the hurricane flattened and flooded much of the city, leaving thousands without homes.

Article title: "Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Grows as Details are Disclosed" - The Indianapolis Times, Indianapolis, Monday, September 26, 1926.
Damage to Miami, Florida from the 1926 hurricane. Images courtesy of the Florida State Archives.

Unnamed Hurricane aka Okeechobee Hurricane, September 1928

Home damaged by the 1928 hurricane - Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Image courtesy of the Florida State Archives.
Burial of hurricane victims - West Palm Beach, Florida. Image courtesy of the Florida State Archives.
Article: "Florida Hurricanes Leaves 33 Known Dead and Thousands Homeless; Loss in Palm Beach Area Will Reach Twenty Millions; Relief Started" - New Britain Herald, New Britain, Connecticut, Tuesday, September 18, 1928.

Unnamed Hurricane aka Cuba – Florida Hurricane, October 1944

"They had no power or delivery for over three weeks."

-Lora Whitney, Longboat Key. From a speech entitled “Stories of Early Longboat Key”, Manatee County Public Library System

The 1944 Unnamed Hurricane reached a Category 3 status with 13 foot storm surge recorded at Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The image on your left shows flooding in St. Augustine, Florida. Image courtesy of the Florida State Archives. The image on your right puts into perspective how high 13 foot storm surge is in the context of the Florida Maritime Museum grounds.

Hurricane Donna, September 1960

Hurricane Donna, blew into the Florida Keys in 1960 with sustained winds of about 138 miles per hour (222 km/h).

Damage in the Florida Keys. Image courtesy of the Florida State Archives.
Storm damage after Hurricane Donna showing debris on Windley Key near Snake Creek Bridge. Image courtesy of the Florida State Archives.

Hurricane Andrew, August 1992

"I was aware of being very grateful for the radio and just imagining being living in a time when there was no warning for such a storm or much less warning and no communication during it."

-Rev. Pat Ashley, Dade County Oral history interview conducted by Billie Houston, University of Miami

Hurricane Irma, September 2017

It is estimated that Irma produced a total 250,000 cubic yards of marine debris alone resulting in $43 million in associated removal costs.

Diver brings up trap line collected post Hurricane Irma during a clean-up in the Florida Keys.

Photo credit: Lisa Mongelia.

Hurricanes are sometimes seen as a great equalizer, affecting everyone the same. Take a minute to reflect on the last 100 years of hurricane history in Florida. Do you think hurricanes affect everyone equally? Please leave us your story so others can compare your experience with theirs. Stories may be selected to be shared online or on social media.

Visit the full exhibit in-person at the Florida Maritime Museum on January 5th, 2021 to learn more.

Thank you to our sponsor


Created with images by Anh Nguyen - "Storm Night" • lavizzara - "Hurricane Irma heading towards Bahamas and Miami, Florida - Elements of this image furnished by NASA" • lazyllama - "Empty scenic view of the colorful concrete buoy marking the southernmost point of the continental USA in Key West, Florida"