Florida's east coast facing rare hurricane threat

Plenty of storms have preceded Matthew in stalking Florida's eastern shores.

It’s been decades since most of the cities on the Atlantic coast of Florida have even felt a storm of Hurricane Matthew’s magnitude: Category 3 or greater.

Looking at the National Hurricane Center's archives, there's a surprisingly sporadic hurricane history for the state’s east coast.

The first hurricane of record, the Miami storm of Sept. 1926, was a Category 4 and Miami Beach and downtown. A Red Cross report lists 373 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries.

Two years later, the Okeechobee hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 near Palm Beach. It was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths.

Then in 1964, 36 years later, Hurricane Dora slammed Jacksonville. While it wasn't a storm of record, it was the last time the city took a direct hit.

Then on Aug. 24, 1992, Andrew, the deadly Category 5 monster, directly tore through Homestead just south of Miami.

It would be another 12 years before the east coast had to brace for a major hurricane. In 2004, Frances came ashore near Stuart. And just three weeks later, Hurricane Jeanne hit the same spot with an eye 60 miles wide.

Hurricane Katrina of 2005 - more than 11 years ago - was the last time the east coast of Florida took a direct hit. Katrina was only a Category 1 at the time, before strengthening dramatically and slamming the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts and leveling parts of New Orleans.

Now it remains to be seen what Matthew will do.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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