• Hurricane Michael upgraded to a Category 5 at time of U.S. landfall

    By: NOAA

    Updated:

    First Alert Weather Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh will go over these latest developments on CBS47 Action News Jax at 5

    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 160 mph.

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    This final wind intensity is a 5 mph increase over the operational estimate and makes Michael a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale at the time of landfall on October 10, 2018, near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.    

    RELATED: Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh visits survivors of Hurricane Michael in Panhandle

    The real-time operational intensity estimate was 155 mph. The final best track intensity estimate of 160 mph was determined by a review of the available aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities – including data and analyses that were not available in real time. The 5 mph increase in the estimated maximum sustained wind speed from the operational estimate is small and well within the normal range of uncertainty.

    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. Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States. Before hitting the United States, the cyclone brought hurricane-force winds to the western tip of Cuba when it was a category 2 Hurricane.

    BURESH BLOG: "Forecasting the Monster Hurricane Michael"

    Along with wind speed, atmospheric pressure is a measure of storm intensity. In general, the lower a storm’s central pressure, the higher the winds. Michael’s central pressure of 919 millibars (mb) at landfall is the third lowest on record for a landfalling U. S. hurricane since reliable records began in 1900, trailing only the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (892 mb) and Hurricane Camille of 1969 (900 mb).

    Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried issued the following statement on the Hurricane Michael Category 5 upgrade:

    “This comes as no surprise to Florida Panhandle communities devastated by Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever strike North America. Yet six months later, Congress has failed to pass disaster relief, leaving our residents, families, and farmers without hope for the future. Disaster relief has typically passed Congress in mere weeks following other disasters, which begs the question: why not here? This Category 5 designation should make our state eligible for additional federal disaster aid, for which Floridians continue to patiently wait – but time is running out.”

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