Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?

Monday, June 18, 2018

The front page story in our local newspaper, The Villages Daily Sun, right after Hurricane Irma was about all the sinkholes that suddenly appeared around the area. While it is always surprising when a sinkhole abruptly collapses, storms are known to activate them for several reasons:

 •• The normal development of sinkholes involves pockets of acidic water slowly dissolving the limestone karst that underlays the soil in most of Florida. Heavy rain and flooding during a hurricane speeds up the process, and organic debris in the water increases its acidity. 

•• The individual soil particles lose their natural ability to adhere to each other when they become saturated after heavy rain, and standing water adds weight over a sinkhole void underground, making it more likely to collapse.

•• Smaller solution sinkholes, called “chimney sinkholes,” are also more likely to appear after a hurricane. We noticed a new one, shown below, at a golf course near us the week after Irma.

   They look like a tortoise or armadillo hole at first glance but, on closer examination, part of the opening will extend straight down and some are big enough for a child to fall into.

•• A hurricane that follows a period of drought is especially likely to cause sinkholes.  Drought lowers the water table and creates pockets of air in the void spaces of the underlying karst that once were filled with water; then the heavy hurricane rains weigh down the soil above it. With the buoyancy that the water is the karst pockets once provided now gone, collapse is more likely to occur.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about SINKHOLES:

Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?

What is a chimney sinkhole? 

What are the warning signs of a sinkhole? 

What causes sinkholes? 

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole?  

What is my chance of buying a Florida home over a sinkhole? 

• How does a repaired sink hole under a house affect its market value?

• Where are sinkholes most likely to occur in Florida?  

Are there sinkholes in The Villages, Florida?

• Are sinkholes happening more often? 

What are the basic facts about sinkholes? 
• Does homeowners insurance in Florida include coverage for sinkhole damage? 

Should I be concerned about an old sinkhole on a property?

• Should I be concerned about my house if a sinkhole opens in my neighbor's yard? 

What are the Florida law regarding sinkhole insurance?

Can a home inspector determine if there are any sinkholes on a property?

Is it safe to buy a house with sinkhole foundation repair?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil? 

   Visit our SINKHOLES page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Top photo - SW Florida Water Management District

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size




Aging in Place


Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject


Doors and Windows


Energy Efficiency

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Heating and Air Conditioning

Home Inspection

Hurricane Resistance

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

Electrical Panels

Garages and Carports

Common Problems

Exterior Walls & Structures



Life Expectancy

Mobile/Manufactured Homes

Older and

Historic Houses

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants

Modular Homes

Metal Roofs



Pool and Spa

Roof and Attic




"Should I Buy A..."


Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests

Structure and Rooms


Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

Septic Tank Systems

Plumbing Pipes


When It First

Became Code

Park Model Homes

Shingle Roofs


Wind Mitigation Form

"Does A Home


"What Is The Difference Between..."


Concrete and

Concrete Block


Rain Gutters


Crawl Spaces

Building Permits

Clay Soil




HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Flat Roofs

Sprinkler Systems

4-Point Inspections

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Building Codes

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Washers and Dryers



Electrical Wiring

Plumbing Drains

and Traps

Smoke & CO Alarms

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.