The weather is a fact of life in Florida. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, we experience the amazing power of the ocean every day. Most days it is serene and beautiful. Even cloudy days with rain are special. They say any day at the beach is better than a day at work! We do have the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, too. It’s the small price we pay for living on the ocean!
Hurricane Season starts June 1 and ends November 30. In our area the highest chances of Hurricanes are in September. During this time of year, we watch the National Hurricane Center as storms make their way across the Atlantic and sometimes into the Gulf of Mexico. If there is a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, the authorities watch the tracks closely and we are well informed in advance of the progress of every storm. Not every storm becomes a hurricane or even a tropical storm. You can visit the national hurricane center online to track incoming storms at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov. The Weather Channel usually has really dramatic coverage of any possible storm. The locals say that when Jim Cantore and his pals show up, you are in for rough weather.
You’ll have plenty of notice if you need to evacuate and we’ll let you know if we think you should re-schedule your trip due to an incoming storm. Trip insurance that covers weather related cancellations is a really good idea for trips during hurricane season.
The Top 50 cities likely to experience tropical storms and hurricanes include Cape Hatteras, North Carolina at every 1.32 years, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Savannah, GA, Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Tampa, Florida, Turks & Caicos, Pensacola, FL, Norfolk VA, New Orleans, LA. Panama City Beach, FL is way down at #47 on the list at about every 2.33 years. This does not mean we have a hurricane every 2.33 years, it’s just the average over the last 149 years.
The official list of hurricanes in Florida was started in 1851. This list includes Category 3 and stronger hurricanes. For the first 66 years, the list had 11 hurricanes. Five of those caused damage in Bay County.
For the next 57 years (1918-1974), no major storm hit Bay County. People thought that this trend would continue and the we were all safe from hurricanes.
However, since 1975 we have had several big hurricanes: Eloise (Sept. 23, 1975), then Opal (Oct. 4, 1995), Ivan (Sept. 16, 2004), Dennis (July 10, 2005), and Michael (Oct. 10, 2018). From 1975 through 2020, there were 12 major recorded storms and Bay County was affected by 5.
Every storm is not the same, and most are not serious, thank goodness! Michael in 2018 was a Category 5 and was devastating to the local area. When you visit us, if you travel to Panama City across the Hathaway Bridge while you are here, you’ll likely see some of the destruction that is still visible 3+ years after Michael. The interesting thing about Michael is that even though we had a direct hit in Panama City (over the bridge from the beach), damage was horrible in that area but, areas 75-100 miles away saw little or no damage at all.
The thing to remember is that our weather in Panama City Beach is usually BEAUTIFUL with no sign of storms or hurricanes on the horizon so, don’t let the remote possibility that one might pop up keep you from visiting and enjoying the BEACH!
Hurricanes and tropical storms may cause rain and wind across large areas but, the areas of severe damage are relatively small. Keep an eye on the local news for information about evacuations and where you can seek shelter if it becomes necessary.