Climate Alpha uses AI to identify those Fla. cities with the least risk from flooding. For overall storm risk, Ocala is No.3 behind Lake City and Tallahassee.
NEW YORK – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 40% of U.S. hurricane landfalls occur in Florida – significantly more than any other state. But some metro areas – all inland rather than on the coast – have less risk for buyers wary of the occasional storms.
As a result, Ocala, population 63,000, has become a new destination for Floridians moving inland. With higher rainfall rates from future storms expected and stronger peak winds, climate experts say that coastal communities are experiencing higher levels of loss and disruption. That makes landlocked Ocala a more obvious choice.
According to Climate Alpha, which uses artificial intelligence to build forecasting models based on Federal Emergency Management Agency data and other information, not all Florida cities face high risks. It found that Ocala, for example, has the lowest risk of flooding. When it comes to all possible storm damage – including a combination of high winds, drought and inland flooding – Ocala comes in third behind Lake City and Tallahassee.
Ocala has been hit by hurricanes, such as Irma and Idalia, since no Florida city has complete immunity, but the damages weren’t as significant as in other areas, many closer to the coast.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, average premiums have tripled in the last five years, but inland safety can also translate into lower property insurance rates.
In Ocala, premiums averaged $1,894 annually as of March 2023, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation – far lower than $5,665 in Miami Dade County, $5,710 in Palm Beach County, $5,519 in Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), and $7,584 in Monroe County (the Florida Keys).
As more people moved to Ocala, however, real estate prices have increased. Redfin reports an 18% rise in the median price for a luxury home so far in 2023.
Source: Wall Street Journal (10/04/23) Keates, Nancy
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