Preparedness and SafetyFlorida Disasters
Florida Disasters

Although Floridians are most familiar with the hurricane season and the damaging affects of a hurricane, it is not the only type of disaster that Florida has to deal with. It is only one type of natural disaster that can affect Floridians. In addition man-made disasters can also cause serious concerns.

Florida Natural Disasters

  • Thunderstorms and lightening

  • Tornado

  • Flood

  • Hurricane

  • Drought

  • Extreme Heat

Thunderstorms and lightening

In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year. During the past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 66 people. This is more than the average of 65 deaths per year caused by tornadoes. Yet because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is underrated as a risk. While documented lightning injuries in the United States average about 300 per year, undocumented injuries likely much higher.  Lightning is dangerous. With common sense, you can greatly increase your safety and the safety of those you are with. At the first clap of thunder, go a large building or fully enclosed vehicle and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to back outside ( - Thunder and Lightening
NOAA Lightening Safety 


FEMA describes tornados as “nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.” - Tornados
CDC on Tornados


Most commonly devastating disaster that occurs in the U.S., a flood is defined by Webster as “a rising and overflowing of a body of water especially onto normally dry land; also: a condition of overflowing.” The affects of a flood can be local or regional. It can cover multiple counties, jurisdictions, or provinces.

It is extremely important that you are aware of your flood hazard for your neighborhood and home. Charlotte County residents are particularly susceptible to storm surges. A storm surge is a rise of water on the shore associated with a storm, typically a hurricane.

Charlotte County Emergency Management provides concise information on local flood and storm surge zone.

Charlotte EM Flooding
CDC Flood Information - Flood Information
NIOSH Storm and Flood Cleanup


A hurricane is a violent storm originating over tropical waters with sustained (constant) winds over 74 mph. The winds, as in tropical depressions and tropical storms, blow in a counterclockwise direction around the center. Diameter of these storms can range anywhere from 100 to 1,000 miles.

The real hazard which can occur with hurricanes include torrential rains, storm surge, tornadoes, and high winds. Each of these has the potential to cause severe injuries and fatalities.

"Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale"

All Hurricanes are dangerous, but some are more so than others. The way storm surge, wind and other factors combine determines the hurricanes destructive power. To make comparisons easier and to make the predicted hazards of approaching hurricanes clearer to emergency managers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's hurricane forecasters use a disaster-potential scale which assigns storms to five categories. This can be used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast with a hurricane.

The scale was formulated in 1969 by Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer, and Dr. Bob Simpson, director of the National Hurricane Center. The World Meteorological Organization was preparing a report on structural damage to dwellings due to windstorms, and Dr. Simpson added information about storm surge heights that accompany hurricanes in each category.





74-95 mph

No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage


96-110 mph

Some roofing material, door, and window damage to buildings. Considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.


111-130 mph

Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 feet ASL may be flooded inland 8 miles or more.


131-155 mph

More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of beach. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain continuously lower than 10 feet ASL may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas inland as far as 6 miles.


greater than 155 mph

Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet ASL and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5 to 10 miles of the shoreline may be required.

Charlotte EM Hurricane Information
National Hurricane Center
CDC Hurricane Information
NOAA Preparation Information - Hurricane Information


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Extreme Heat

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For information after business hours please call 941-624-7200.

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