When it comes to hurricanes, Florida may as well have a target on its back.
Counting Irma, Florida has now sustained 117 direct hits by hurricanes in recorded history — far more than any other US state, according to NOAA. That’s almost twice as many major storms as have hit the runner-up, Texas.
Louisiana is third in hurricane landfalls, followed by North Carolina and South Carolina.
In fact, 40% of all US hurricanes strike Florida, NOAA says. (Hurricanes sometimes make landfall in multiple states, which is why that 40% figure may not seem to add up in the map above.)
Why Florida? Well, Atlantic hurricanes form over warm water in the tropics and typically move west-northwest with the prevailing winds. That often puts the southeastern US coast in their path, and Florida has the longest coastline — some 1,350 miles — of any state but Alaska. So it’s a big target.
Hurricanes usually weaken as they reach the colder waters of the Northeast, which is why states like Massachusetts and Maine see relatively few.
And hurricanes in the Pacific, while they do occur, tend to travel northwest, away from the mainland US. Those that travel north soon weaken to tropical storms — another reason why a documented hurricane has never made landfall on the West Coast. So that leaves Florida with the dubious title.