Hurricanes and the Jacksonville Area

A Category 1, or minimal, hurricane brings sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph with higher gusts. Power outages would become widespread as large tree limbs and uprooted trees with weak root structures fall on lines. Some wind damage to signs, roofs, screened-in patios and carports would occur. Storm surge flooding of 4 to 5 feet above normal tide levels would affect areas within a couple of blocks of the ocean, as well as in lower areas along the Intracoastal Waterway and St. Johns River and its tributaries. Some low areas in Mayport and Blount Island might also be flooded.

As winds reach 96 to 110 mph, or Category 2 intensity, tree damage increases and there would be more direct wind damage to roofs, windows and patios, especially in mobile homes. Storm surges between 6 and 8 feet begin to flood portions of downtown Jacksonville and other areas along the St. Johns River. Coastal flooding would be more significant, especially from Ponte Vedra Beach southward through St. Augustine. Some evacuation of the immediate coast will be needed. Hurricane Dora in 1964 caused Category 2 conditions in Northeast Florida … the last storm to bring full hurricane conditions to the area.

Storms reaching Category 3 strength are considered major hurricanes and a direct strike is very serious. Coastal areas near the landfall point could see sustained winds as high as 111 to 130 mph. A substantial number of large and small trees would be uprooted, with many homes suffering structural damage. Mobile homes could be destroyed. Extensive evacuation of coastal areas will be required as storm surges of 9 to 12 feet would inundate much of the area along and east of the Intracoastal through Duval and St. Johns counties. Downtown flooding would be significant in Jacksonville as the St. Johns River floods many areas on both sides of its banks. St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach would also experience substantial flooding.

By the time winds reach Category 4 speeds of 131 to 155 mph, or Category 5 if they go above that, extensive structural damage is likely. Extensive evacuation of coastal areas up to 5 to 10 miles inland will be required, due to storm surges of 13 to 18 feet or higher. Fortunately, there have been no instances of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane directly striking Northeast Florida since records have been kept.


The NE Florida coastline is usually protected by ridges of pressure that steer Atlantic hurricanes out to sea or up into the Carolinas. We usually get battered by strong tropical storms with gusts to hurricane force that entered Florida as a hurricane on the gulf coast side. There can be (and are) widespread power outages and property damages from fallen trees.

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