Published: Sun, April 21, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Hurricane Michael Upgraded to Cat 5 Six Months Later

Hurricane Michael Upgraded to Cat 5 Six Months Later

Hurricane Michael, which struck the Florida Panhandle in October past year, claimed 59 lives and caused approximately $25 billion in damages.

Scientists at NOAA's National Hurricane Center conducted a detailed post-storm analysis on all the data available for Hurricane Michael and have determined that the storm's estimated intensity at landfall was 140 knots (160 mph).

Only four Category 5 storms have hit the USA according to reliable historical records and Hurricane Michael is the country's third strongest land-falling hurricane. 5 hurricane to hit the United States.

Hurricane Michael ripped into the community of Mexico Beach, Florida, last October.

Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm. They've determined that its estimated intensity at landfall was 160 miles per hour (257 kph), a 5 miles per hour (8 kph) increase over the operational estimate used last fall, NOAA said in a news release.

The popular tourist destination and vacation town had approximately 1,200 residents and 2,700 housing units pre-Michael, and those numbers are down to just 400 people and 500 units just six months later. Much of Panama City remains without electricity or running water since Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on October 10, as a category 4 storm, causing massive damage and claiming around 30 lives.

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The NHC bumped up landfall winds based on an extensive analysis of reconnaissance aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressure, Doppler winds and estimates of intensity from satellite imagery.

"We note that the 5-[knot] increase in estimated maximum wind speed at landfall is small and well within the normal uncertainty", they wrote.

The deadly storm resulted in 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States as it barreled through the Florida Panhandle and into the Carolinas, which, at the time, were still recuperating from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. "We still don't have a pretty face".

Storm surge was 14 feet above ground level in Mexico Beach, according to the report. Vacant lots line USA 98 as it winds west toward Panama City, also heavily damaged by the storm.

Camille in 1969 was the only other northern Gulf Coast Category 5 landfall.

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