Nov 30, 2023 - News

Atlantic hurricane season ends, with Idalia the sole landfall

Rescuers help Horseshoe Beach residents remove debris after Hurricane Idalia. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Breathe easy, Tampa Bay. The Atlantic hurricane season ends today.

Why it matters: Forecasters' predictions for an above-average season came true, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recording 20 named storms, but Tampa Bay once again got lucky and avoided direct hits.

  • So did most of the country. The sole hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Idalia, which slammed into Florida's Big Bend region Aug. 30.

Yes, but: The Category 3 storm still flooded homes in Pasco County, Tarpon Springs and St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood as it moved through the Gulf of Mexico. It also majorly eroded Pinellas' beaches.

  • And the storm decimated the timber and agriculture industries in the Big Bend region.

Zoom in: An estimated 3 million acres of farms were in Idalia's path, according to a preliminary assessment by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. It caused production losses ranging from about $79 million to $371 million.

  • Animals such as cattle and chickens, and animal products like milk, eggs and honey made up $31 million to $123 million of that total.
  • At least $31 million in field and row crops were lost in the storm, and greenhouse and nursery product losses were projected at a minimum of $5 million.

What they're saying: The storm, along with this summer's record heat, has some farmers wondering how much more they can take, WUFT reported.

  • "I keep hearing over and over again that Florida got lucky, and it's good that it didn't hit a more populated area," Courtney Darling, communications manager for the Lafayette County Farm Bureau, told the radio station. "People were complaining about their electricity being gone for a day, but these farmers have lost basically their complete livelihoods."

Meanwhile, Idalia destroyed an estimated 289,096 acres of timber at a value of nearly $65 million, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in its preliminary assessment.

The bottom line: This season served as a reminder that it takes just one storm to cause widespread damage, and the destruction can cause many forms of harm, from loss of lives and homes to products people rely on and the livelihoods of those who produce them.


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