1. Tropical cyclones pose a threat to the Pensacola area throughout
the Atlantic Hurricane Season (01 June-30 November). The principal
threat to Pensacola is from tropical cyclones approaching from the
southeast, south, and southwest. Seventy-three percent of all
tropical cyclones reaching a distance of within 180 nm of Pensacola
between the years 1871 and 1979 have approached from these sectors.
Pensacola's location within a hurricane belt and the absence of
sheltered facilities and anchorages available to deep-draft vessels
in Pensacola Bay make it a poor hurricane haven.
2. The dominant features of the Gulf Coast region is its location on
the northern shore of the Gulf, and its east-west orientation, which
is perpendicular to the usual tropical cyclone tracks at this latitude.
The region between 25( N and 35( N is particularly important in that
it lies within the normal point of convergence for recurving tropical
cyclones. This is significant because tropical cyclones typically slow
and intensify during the recurvature stage. During the recurvature
stage of the tropical cyclone life cycle, it is more difficult to
accurately predict the rate of recurvature, the storm speed after
recurvature, and the storm's precise future position.
3. During the 109-year period between 1871 and 1979, there were 143
tropical cyclones that met the 180-nm criteria for Pensacola. This
translates into an average of 1.3 per year. The following table
shows specific monthly totals and percentages.
Month Number % of Total
June 18 12.6
July 16 11.2
August 22 15.4
September 56 39.2
October 27 18.9
November 2 1.4
The major threat sector extends from southeast
to southwest. It should be noted that six tropical cyclones have
developed within 180 nm of Pensacola, and were at their closest point
of approach (CPA) at the time of formation. An approach direction
is therefore not applicable to these storms. Two of these six
developed into hurricanes very quickly.