Well yes, hurricanes can of course hit Tampa and cause horrible destruction. The threat of hurricanes hurt Tampa's bid for the 2008 convention. But will a hurricane actually hit Tampa during convention week during 2012? The Hotline is very worried:
In choosing Tampa, FL, as the site of their '12 nominating convention, the RNC has selected a city that is among the most overdue for a major hurricane.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, a hurricane passes within 65 nautical miles (about 75 miles) of Tampa every 6 years. For major hurricanes -- those with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph or greater -- it is one every 21 years.
Tampa has received a number of glancing blows, but Stacy Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, says it's only a matter of time before a major hurricane strikes the city.
"The Tampa Bay area, unfortunately, is one of those well-overdue places," Stewart said. "They're due for a hurricane. They're due for a major hurricane."
There is one mitigating factor for GOPers: While late Aug. is an active time for hurricanes and tropical storms, that isn't necessarily the case along FL's Gulf Coast. The most likely time for a landfalling hurricane along FL's Gulf Coast is later in the season, in late Sept. and Oct., according to Stewart.
OH GOP Chair Kevin DeWine was a member of the site-selection committee that chose Tampa. He said he didn't attend the site visit that some members did, but he also said the threat of tropical weather never came up during the committee's discussions."
"The things that we discussed and took into consideration were issues that were related to the business decision for the RNC," DeWine said.
Then again, proximity isn't even required for hurricanes to shut down a convention. In '08, the opening night of the GOP convo in St. Paul, MN, was scrapped while Hurricane Gustav made landfall near Cocodrie, LA, more than 1,200 miles south of the convention hall. Gustav was directly responsible for 7 deaths in LA and 4 in FL.
First, can someone explain to me how an area can become "overdue" for a hurricane? Sure, an earthquake or volcano builds up pressure over time, so the probability of the event increases over time. But a hurricane? I'm sure Dr. Stewart of the NHC is smarter than to actually imply that the odds of Tampa being hit by a hurricane actually increase the longer it's been since the last one.
So what are the odds Tampa is hit by a hurricane the week of the convention? The article says "a hurricane passes within 65 nautical miles (about 75 miles) of Tampa every 6 years". Lets define that as a "hurricane hitting Tampa", since the possibility of a hurricane can have a major impact, even if the hurricane ends up being minimal and 75 miles away. So once every 6 years.
But what are the odds that it hits during convention week. Looking at this chart, 28% of all hurricanes occur in August. Since the frequency of hurricanes is much greater at the end of August than at the beginning, lets say 12% of hurricanes occur the last week in August. But, again from the article:
The most likely time for a landfalling hurricane along FL's Gulf Coast is later in the season, in late Sept. and Oct., according to Stewart.
I've been unable to find specific monthly frequencies for the Tampa area (if anyone has a link, please provide), so lets just make an educated guess, and cut the 12% potential down to 3%. So 3% of all Tampa hurricanes hit the last week in August. A hurricane comes every 6 years. Which means a hurricane should hit Tampa the last week in August once every 200 years.
In 2006, the Tampa bid committee wrote:
The chance of a hurricane directly hitting the area while the convention is in town in early September 2008 is too small to affect the decision.
They were right. The Hotline should stop being Chicken Little.