Hurricane Michael gets an upgrade to rare Category 5 status

Clay Curtis
April 20, 2019

Hurricane Michael made an extremely rare Category 5 USA landfall last October in the Florida Panhandle, a post-storm analysis has determined.

It was responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States.

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.

Only two other storms in recorded history have hit the nation as a Category 5, forecasters said - the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

The report released by NOAA states that the decision to adjust the hurricane's category was a result of assessing data that was not available in real-time.

"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", the statement said.

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This makes Hurricane Michael the first category 5 to hit the U.S. since 1992's Hurricane Andrew. And many of those suffered catastrophic damage. The causes included falls during the post-storm clean up, traffic accidents and medical issues compounded by the hurricane. The increase in the estimated maximum sustained wind speed from the operational estimate is small and well within the normal range of uncertainty, NOAA said.

"We still don't have a pretty face". "But we are working diligently at getting ourselves cleaned up and being proactive and helping people get their feet back under them". It's only the forth of its kind on record for the U.S., including the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Hurricane Michael's intensity at landfall was 160 miles per hour on October 10, 2018, near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

Last year, meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center estimated the storm's intensity at 155 miles per hour, which just missed the cutoff for Category 5 status.

Despite that, Michael's landfall winds were tied with the San Felipe 1928 hurricane - when it struck Puerto Rico - as the fourth highest of any USA state or territorial landfall since 1900.

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