Panama City is the seventh most likely Florida city to be hit by a major hurricane, with a category three storm expected once every 35 years. That’s according to a new study from researchers at Florida State University which ranks 12 cities in the state in order of their hurricane vulnerability.
On November 20th, 1985, Monday of Thanksgiving week that year, Hurricane Kate ripped through the big bend, passing just west of Tallahassee after it crashed ashore at Mexico Beach. If fact, it was the first and only time the eye of a hurricane actually crossed over the Bay County coastline.
According to a new study, a storm like Kate will only hit Tallahassee once every 500 years. FSU Professor James Elsner and Doctorial Student Jill Malmstadt ranked 12 Florida cities in order of their vulnerability to extreme storms. An extreme would be what are considered category threes, fours, and fives.
Miami is the most vulnerable, with researchers predicting a cat 3 or higher will hit the city once every 12 years. Pensacola and Panama city are dead in the middle. Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa ranked near the bottom, with Tampa coming in at number 10. Tampa is vulnerable to storms that develop in the western side of the Caribbean and move up into the Gulf of Mexico, but that's a lot rarer event.
The study will be published in November and used to help policymakers and insurance companies determine property insurance rates and high areas of risk.