At one point during September 2019, as many as six tropical storms and hurricanes surrounded the United States, setting a new record for the greatest number of storms to ever bombard the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans at one time. Thinking about this record made us wonder—which U.S. states have had the most hurricane activity within a single Atlantic hurricane season? The research points to Florida and North Carolina: these two states have seen the greatest number of back-to-back hits from hurricanes in the shortest timespans.
According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nearly half (40%) of all Atlantic hurricanes that make landfall in the United States hit the state of Florida. Even so, Floridians and the nation were stunned in 2004 when four hurricanes made landfall in the state over a period of just six weeks! This record earned Florida the temporary nickname of the “Plywood State”—a metaphor for the amounts of wood Florida residents used in prepping for the storms, and for the wood and downed trees that littered the state afterward.
2004 Hurricanes Included:
- Hurricane Charley: On August 13, Charley made landfall on the southwest coast of Florida, just west of Fort Meyers, as a category 4 major hurricane.
- Hurricane Frances: On September 5, Frances, hit Florida’s east coast as a category 2 storm.
- Hurricane Ivan: Ivan developed in the Atlantic on the same day Hurricane Frances struck Florida. Less than 2 weeks later, Ivan hit the Florida panhandle (just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama) as a category 3 major hurricane.
- Hurricane Jeanne: On September 25, Jeanne struck Florida’s east coast as a category 3 major hurricane, following nearly the same path across Florida as Hurricane Frances had two weeks earlier.
Florida also held the previous record, set in 1871, when three unnamed hurricanes (Hurricanes Three, Four, and Six) impacted the state on August 16, August 24, and September 6—a stretch of just three weeks.
A trio of hurricanes also paraded through the “Sunshine State” in 1964 (Hurricanes Cleo, Dora, and Isbell) and 2005 (Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, and Wilma), however, these landfalls didn’t occur in such a dizzying succession.
In 1955, three hurricanes hit the North Carolina coast in five weeks’ time.
- Hurricane Connie: Connie made landfall in the Outer Banks region on August 12 as a category 1 storm.
- Hurricane Diane: A mere five days after Connie struck the state, Diane hit near Wilmington, NC, also as a category 1 hurricane.
- Hurricane Ione: On September 19, Ione moved onshore as a category 1 storm just south of New Bern, NC. Its rainfall, especially following that from Hurricanes Connie and Diane, triggered significant river flooding and agricultural losses in the eastern part of the state.
What About Maine?
What about Maine (the Farmers’ Almanac home state)? Since hurricane records began back in 1851, only three hurricanes have ever made landfall in Maine. (This is all thanks to the cool waters of the Gulf of Maine, which are much too cold to power tropical, heat-seeking hurricanes.) Surprisingly, two of these hurricanes occurred back-to-back. On September 8, 1869, the season’s sixth tropical cyclone entered southern Maine as a category 1 hurricane after cutting diagonally across Long Island, New York; Rhode Island; Massachusetts; and New Hampshire. Just under a month later, on October 4, the season’s tenth cyclone (known as the Saxby Gale) struck just east of Portland. It too was a category 1 hurricane.
Most recently, the remnants of Hurricanes Carol and Edna passed through the state in 1954 within 2 weeks of each other.