October can be one of the most dangerous months for hurricanes. While September is the peak of the season, water is still warm enough in October to create large storms in the Caribbean that can move north to the Gulf.
Unnamed hurricane (1921)
This storm formed in the western Caribbean on October 20 before moving north into the Gulf. It reached Category 4 at its peak and made landfall as a Category 3 storm near Tarpon Springs at high tide. The storm had sustained winds of 111 mph, and Tampa Bay saw a storm surge of more than 10 feet.
The storm caused an estimate of $2 million in damages. It destroyed the trolley line that ran along Bayshore Boulevard. Near Palmetto Beach, forces the storm sent large cedar logs smashing into 50 frame homes. At least six died.
Hurricane Gladys (1968)
Gladys was a Category 1 storm when it came ashore, but 85 mph winds and a 6- to 7- foot storm surge caused at least $6.7 million in damages. The storm splintered mobile homes and sank boats.
The storm formed in the western Caribbean and made landfall between Crystal River and Bayport. Hurricane-force winds were felt from Pinellas to Citrus counties, according to Times archives.
Hurricane Opal (1995)
The Associated Press called Opal “the most destructive hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle in the 20th Century.” The name Opal was permanently retired from the hurricane name roster after this storm.
The Category 3 hurricane made landfall at Pensacola Beach, where residents were still trying to bounce back just two months after Hurricane Erin. The storm brought an estimated $3 billion in damages thanks to 115 mph winds and 12-to-15-foot storm surge. Opal caused deaths in the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala.
Hurricane Wilma (2005)
Wilma’s destruction stretched from Naples to Miami, impacting more than 10 million of Florida’s then-16 million residents. It made landfall in South Florida as a Category 3 storm and left about 6 million people over 28 counties without electricity. It was the eighth hurricane to hit Florida in a 15-month span. Wilma was responsible for at least six deaths.
Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report, which includes information from Times files.
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