Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Michael charges into U.S. Southeast after slamming north Florida

Michael charges into U.S. Southeast after slamming north Florida

A pier damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida, US.

Hurricane Michael claimed its first life after roaring ashore in Florida on Wednesday, October 10, flooding homes and streets and toppling trees and power lines in the Gulf of Mexico beachfront area where it made landfall as a raging Category 4 storm.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the USA mainland, behind the unnamed Labour Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

Michael had weakened to a Category 1, with maximum winds of 90 miles per hour as of 8:00 pm Eastern time (0000 GMT), but that still left it an extremely risky storm.

"I'll be traveling to Florida very, very shortly and I just want to wish them all the best". It was the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.

A month after Hurricane Florence's epic deluge, SC officials are more concerned about tornadoes than flooding from Michael.

As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing top sustained wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above.

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While originally a Category 1 storm, Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane just hours before it was set to make landfall. A water-level station in Apalachicola, close to where Michael came ashore, reported a surge of almost 8 feet (2.5 meters).


Richard Fausset of The New York Times said the winds were so intense that it felt like a California quake.

Much of the affected area is rural and known for small tourist cities, beaches and wildlife reserves, as well as the state capital, Tallahassee, home to about 190,000 people. "We thought the windows were going to break at any time", Beu said. The storm hit roared ashore along the Florida Panhandle, between Tyndall Air Force Base and Mexico Beach, according to NASA.

Florida Governor Rick Scott says search and rescue teams are heading into the U.S. state's hardest-hit areas to help survivors of Hurricane Michael.

The storm could drive sea water levels as high as 4.3 metres above normal in some areas, the National Hurricane Centre said.

A Red Cross official said it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.

Rapid intensification poses new dangers to communities in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes because it makes early forecasts less reliable and because it leaves less time to evacuate or prepare for severe damage.

Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. "I mean, literally, we follow it right in". It is also the strongest hurricane to strike anywhere in Florida since Andrew in 1992.

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This is preferred by Klotzbach, who explains that it is more precise for historical comparisons because it is measured precisely by an airplane flying in the middle of the storm's eye, whereas "wind is going to be different everywhere along the hurricane".

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Centre Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.

Hargan, a bartender at a riverfront restaurant, feared he would lose his home and his job to the storm.

Trees and wires are down throughout Florida Gulf Coast towns. "I'm freakin' scared I'm going to lose everything I own, man".

Only a skeleton staff remains at the home of the 325th Fighter Wing after the base's aircraft, which include F-11 Raptors, were flown hundreds of kilometres away as a precaution.

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