Storm WatchStorm Watch

Hurricane facts & figures

A vulnerable coast

Of all the hurricane-prone areas of the United States, Tampa Bay is considered one of the vulnerable to severe flooding, damage and loss of life in a major hurricane. There are several reasons for that.

Pinellas County, a peninsula with miles of waterfront, is the most densely populated county in Florida and evacuation routes are limited. Moreover, many schools and other structures that normally would be used for shelters are in areas that would have to be evacuated. The county also has a large population of elderly people, whose evacuation would pose special problems in an emergency.

Tampa Bay's geography could also increase the effects of a storm surge -- the Gulf of Mexico has a broad, shallow continental shelf on which a storm surge could build to heights of 20 feet or more, enough to destroy or damage thousands of homes and businesses. Luckily, the Tampa Bay area has not received a direct hit from a major hurricane in several decades. (Take a look at the worst storms to threaten Florida this century.)

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