TAMPA, Fla. (WLFA) — The peak of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season is well behind us now, but that doesn’t mean the Tampa Bay area is out of the woods yet.

Hurricane history

In the last 170 years, the Tampa Bay area has weathered a total of nine hurricanes during the month of October — The most recent of which was Hurricane Gladys in 1968. That year, the Category 2 hurricane made landfall near Homosassa Springs as the only hurricane to reach the U.S.

Some may also recall when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Fort Myers on Sep. 28, 2022, bringing devastating storm surge to much of southwest Florida. However, for the purposes of this story, we’ll be focusing on the hurricanes and tropical systems recorded during the month of October.

Purple: Cat. 5, Pink: Cat. 4, Red: Cat. 3, Orange: Cat. 2, Yellow: Cat. 1, Green: Tropical Storm, Blue: Tropical Depression, Grey: Extratropical Storm (Images courtesy of NOAA’s Historical Hurricane Tracks tool)

October activity

Data collected by the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1851-2015 shows that the first 10 days of October is typically the most active time of the month, followed by the next and final 10-day periods respectively.

A heat map provided by NOAA and the NWS shows that southeast Florida is the most prone region to hurricanes during the month of October, seeing between 20-34 hurricanes during a 100-year period. Coastal communities from Houston, TX to Virginia Beach, VA, including the entirety of the state of Florida, see between 5-19 hurricanes during that same time.

Number of hurricanes per 100 years (Courtesy of NOAA, NWS)

Luck or geography?

To find out once and for all if Tampa Bay has just been lucky to be sparred by major hurricanes or if it’s a normal part of our climate, WFLA’s Max Defender 8 weather team patterned with Columbia University’s Climate School in New York City to conduct a first-of-its-kind study.

You can read the study’s findings here.