Nearly a year ago, Bayshore Boulevard in South Tampa was completely under water and the Tampa Bay area experienced widespread damage from a tropical system that did not even reach hurricane status here. Tropical Storm Debby dumped up to 20 inches of rain on the region in late June 2012, flooded Pasco County streets for weeks, and left the region thankful but wondering what would have happened if she had developed into a full-blown hurricane. While we may have experienced a sense of relief but also complacency as we wonder if our luck will ever run out, a team of meteorologists at The Weather Channel and weather.com put out a serious warning for the Tampa Bay area. A survey of meteorologists has determined that Tampa is the "most vulnerable and overdue" city for a direct hurricane hit.
The meteorologists examined statistics from major coastal cities, and used 2012 criteria such as storm surge, evacuation time, population and the number of years since each city was hit hard by a hurricane. The experts included St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Clearwater in the area, and cites that combined population of about 4 million, evacuation time of 68 hours if hit by a Category 5 hurricane, and per-capita storm-surge loss of $17,813. They also said the area is 91 years overdue, with the last direct hit having come in 1921. The National Hurricane Center calls for 13 to 20 named Atlantic storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes. The other cities to make the Top 10: Naples Jacksonville Honolulu Houston Savannah, Ga. Mobile, Ala. Charleston, S.C. Key West Providence, R.I.