Hurricane History in The Florida Keys

Photo of NOAA’s Labor Day Hurricane Page of 15 Top Hurricanes in the Keys


On Sept. 18, 2018, NOAA's Florida Keys National Weather Service released the "Top 15 Worst Hurricanes in Florida Keys History."  It includes Story Maps that combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. They make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell a story.

This site will serve as a handy online reference, highlighting the most significant Florida Keys hurricane impacts in history, from the 1622 ATOCHA hurricane to Hurricane Irma (2017).

Hurricane History of the Florida Keys

Hurricane Donna, a category 4 hurricane made landfall on August 29, 1960. The area hit most intensely was Marathon to Tavernier. The storm damage included 75 percent of buildings. The maximum rainfall for hurricane Donna was 13.25 inches with wind gusts of 150 mph. Insurance and construction regulations, as well as evacuation orders, were among the changes made after the storm. Hurricane Donna resulted in 12 fatalities in Florida.

 Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 hurricane made landfall August 24, 1992. Andrew had wind gusts of 114 mph in Key Largo, and mainland gusts reached 177 mph. In the early stages, Hurricane Andrew was not expected to grow into a particularly large storm. However, factors increased the conditions for storm growth and the storm grew in two days and hit South Florida at powerful category 5. In Monroe County, rainfall was relatively light measuring 3 inches. Hurricane Andrew was the most expensive recovery in Florida, costing $131 million in Monroe County and $25 billion in Miami-Dade. In Florida, the storm resulted in 44 fatalities.

 Hurricane Georges was a category 2 hurricane that made landfall on September 25, 1998. The Lower Keys were the most severely hit location with recorded wind gusts of 105 mph. The damage from Hurricane Georges resulted from 17 tornadoes and a max rainfall of 8.41 inches. Power lines and vehicle loss resulted, but no fatalities occurred.

Hurricane Wilma, a category 2 hurricane made landfall October 24, 2005. The eye of the storm reached landfall in Naples, Florida with most of the flooding affecting Key West. Wilma was the second most expensive storm recorded with $18.6 billion in damage in Florida. In Key West, flooding occurred in 60 percent of all houses. Hurricane Wilma had relatively low rainfall reaching 2 inches. Storm surges, however, produced 2-3 feet of flooding. Wilma resulted in six fatalities in Florida.

 Hurricane Irma, a category 4 hurricane made landfall September 10, 2017. In places like Bahia Honda, 160 mph wind gusts occurred. The most intensely affected location was the Lower to Middle Keys. A statewide evacuation occurred in the wake of Irma. The damage was immense, 25 percent of homes in the Keys were destroyed, while 65 percent sustained damage. Hurricane Irma resulted in 84 fatalities in Florida and 17 in the Florida Keys.