Florida is nicknamed “the Sunshine State,” which holds true 60-70% of the time. The peninsula is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and traversed by over 11,000 miles of rivers and waterways. It’s also home to two vast wetlands, the Everglades, and the Okefenokee Swamp. With all that water around, you might wonder if there’s anywhere in Florida that you can bask in the mild climate without stressing over flooding potential.
Rest assured! You can enjoy this sunny state without worrying about flooding in these seven cities in Florida.
Home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and other entertainment parks, Orlando is the largest city on the list. It sits near the center of the peninsula, about halfway between the two coastlines and a third of the way down the north-south axis.
A little southeast of Orlando is the city of Kissimmee. Although the city nestles up to Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho, for short), Kissimmee is on our no-flood list. According to the Kissimmee Public Works website, most “flooding” in the city results from water puddling in lower spots and overflowing ditches. Rainfall simply overwhelms the stormwater drainage system. However, these incidents occur and disperse quickly.
Ocala is located inland, about 75 miles from the nearest beach, and is the jumping-off point for the huge Ocala National Forest to the east. Silver Springs, an iconic, clear water spring, is a nearby tourist attraction.
Lake City sits in the north-central part of Florida, just 61 miles west of Jacksonville and about 30 miles from the Georgia state line. It abuts the Osceola Wildlife Management Area and is the county seat of Columbia County. The city’s elevation is at 104 feet above sea level.
Palatka is south of Jacksonville and east of Gainesville along the St. John’s River. While flooding isn’t out of the realm of possibility, for most of the Palatka city limits, the risk is very minimal. According to the FEMA Flood Maps, the areas with higher chances of flooding—1%–sit outside the city along undeveloped portions of the river.
Home to the University of Florida, Gainesville is in central Florida along I-75. At 177 feet about sea level and without any large bodies of water nearby, Gainesville is at minimal risk for flooding. Significant rainfall in a short amount of time can cause some streets to flood temporarily, but major, widespread flooding isn’t typical.
Marianna, Florida is a small city nicknamed “the City of Southern Charm.” Located about 65 miles west of Tallahassee and 20 miles from the Alabama state line in the Florida panhandle, Marianna clocks in at 167 feet above sea level. Flooding here is virtually nonexistent. Along the Chipola River, which skirts the city limits, FEMA estimates a 1% chance of flooding, but none is shown in Marianna itself.
Is There a Lot of Flooding in Florida?
Florida has so much flooding that it is considered the most flood-prone state in the U.S. The primary reasons for flooding in Florida are a combination of these factors:
- Flat terrain at or near sea level
- Annual average rainfall of almost 60”
- Subtropical humid climate
- Large bodies of water nearby, including lakes, wetlands, and an ocean and gulf
- High levels of groundwater
- Year-round thunderstorms and tropical storms with hurricanes the biggest worry in late summer/early fall
While it might seem like there’s no escape from the flooding that often follows these routine and catastrophic weather patterns. In Florida, that sweet spot occurs in the North Central area bordered by I-10, I-75, I-4, and I-95. Nowhere is 100% flood-proof, but we’ve found that the cities above have minimal flooding risks.
But outside of this, you’ll find what makes Florida so attractive to visitors and residents is the easy access to more than 1700 beautiful lakes and rivers, moderate temps year-round, and miles upon miles of white sandy beaches.
Honestly, flooding is a coast-to-coast issue for the state of Florida. Sure, we’ve gathered a short list of six cities with minimal flood risk. These are definitely your best bet if you want that sunny Florida life without fearing rising waters constantly.
Let’s be real, though. Florida is a hurricane and tropical storm magnet. The next big catastrophic storm, in conjunction with Florida’s vast system of rivers and lakes, could affect any of these places in drastic and damaging ways. Flooding risk in these locales is historically minimal, but, in the end, Mother Nature is going to have her way.