Hurricane Michael

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Hurricane Michael
Category 5 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Michael 2018-10-10 1840Z.jpg
Hurricane Michael shortly after making landfall on the Florida Panhandle on October 10
FormedOctober 7, 2018
DissipatedOctober 16, 2018
( Extratropical after October 11)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:160 mph (260 km/h)
Lowest pressure919 mbar (hPa); 27.14 inHg
Fatalities31 direct, 43 indirect
Damage$25.1 billion (2018 USD)
Areas affected Central America, Yucatán Peninsula, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Southeastern United States (especially the Florida Panhandle), Eastern United States, Eastern Canada, Iberian Peninsula
Part of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Michael was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992. In addition, it was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille of 1969. It was the first Category 5 hurricane on record to impact the Florida Panhandle, and was the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane in the contiguous United States, in terms of wind speed.

Contiguous United States 48 states of the United States apart from Alaska and Hawaii

The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states on the continent of North America. The terms exclude the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all other off-shore insular areas. These differ from the related term continental United States which includes Alaska but excludes Hawaii and insular territories.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Hurricane Andrew Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1992

Hurricane Andrew was a destructive Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that struck the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana in mid-to-late August 1992. It was the most destructive hurricane to ever hit Florida until Hurricane Irma surpassed it 25 years later. It was the strongest in decades and the costliest hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the United States until it was surpassed by Katrina in 2005. Andrew caused major damage in the Bahamas and Louisiana, but the greatest impact was felt in South Florida, where the storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, with sustained wind speeds as high as 165 mph (270 km/h). Passing directly through the city of Homestead in Dade County, Andrew stripped many homes of all but their concrete foundations. In total, Andrew destroyed more than 63,500 houses, damaged more than 124,000 others, caused $27.4 billion in damage, and left 65 people dead.


The thirteenth named storm, seventh hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Michael originated from a broad low-pressure area that formed in the southwestern Caribbean Sea on October 1. The disturbance became a tropical depression on October 7, after nearly a week of slow development. By the next day, Michael had intensified into a hurricane near the western tip of Cuba, as it moved northward. The hurricane strengthened rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico, reaching major hurricane status on October 9. As it approached the Florida Panhandle, Michael had reached Category 5 status with peak winds of 160 mph (260 km/h) [1] just before making landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 10, becoming the first to do so in the region as a Category 5 hurricane, and as the strongest storm of the season. As it moved inland, the storm weakened and began to take a northeastward trajectory toward Chesapeake Bay, weakening to a tropical storm over Georgia, and transitioning into an extratropical cyclone over southern Virginia late on October 11. Michael subsequently strengthened into a powerful extratropical cyclone and eventually impacted the Iberian Peninsula, before dissipating on October 16.

Tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones are named by various warning centers to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings. The names are intended to reduce confusion in the event of concurrent storms in the same basin. Generally once storms produce sustained wind speeds of more than 33 knots, names are assigned in order from predetermined lists depending on which basin they originate. However, standards vary from basin to basin: some tropical depressions are named in the Western Pacific, while tropical cyclones must have a significant amount of gale-force winds occurring around the centre before they are named in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS), formerly the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale (SSHS), classifies hurricanes – Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms – into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds.

2018 Atlantic hurricane season Hurricane season in the Atlantic ocean

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was the third in a consecutive series of above-average and damaging Atlantic hurricane seasons, featuring 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes, which caused a total of over $49.975 billion in damages. The season officially began on June 1, 2018, and ended on November 30, 2018. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. The formation of Tropical Storm Alberto on May 25, marked the fourth consecutive year in which a storm developed before the official start of the season. The next storm, Beryl, became the first hurricane to form in the eastern Atlantic during the month of July since Bertha in 2008. Chris, upgraded to a hurricane on July 10, became the earliest second hurricane in a season since 2005. No hurricanes formed in the North Atlantic during the month of August, marking the first season since 2013, and the eighth season on record, to do so. On September 5, Florence became the first major hurricane of the season. On September 12, Joyce formed, making 2018 the first season since 2008 to feature four named storms active simultaneously. On October 9, Michael became the second major hurricane of the season, and a day later, it became the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. With the formation of Oscar on October 26, the season is the first on record to see seven storms that were subtropical at some point in their lifetimes.

At least 74 deaths had been attributed to the storm, including 59 in the United States and 15 in Central America. Hurricane Michael caused an estimated $25.1 billion (2018  USD) in damages, [2] including $100 million in economic losses in Central America, [3] damage to U.S. fighter jets with a replacement cost of approximately $6 billion at Tyndall Air Force Base, [4] and at least $6.23 billion in insurance claims in the U.S. [5] [6] Losses to agriculture alone exceeded $3.87 billion. [7] [8] As a tropical disturbance, the system caused extensive flooding in Central America in concert with a second disturbance over the eastern Pacific Ocean. In Cuba, the hurricane's winds left over 200,000 people without power as the storm passed to the island's west. Along the Florida panhandle, the cities of Mexico Beach and Panama City suffered the worst of Michael, with catastrophic damage reported due to the extreme winds and storm surge. Numerous homes were flattened and trees felled over a wide swath of the panhandle. A maximum wind gust of 139 mph (224 km/h) was measured at Tyndall Air Force Base near the point of landfall. As Michael tracked across the Southeastern United States, strong winds caused extensive power outages across the region.

Central America central geographic region of the Americas

Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

Tyndall Air Force Base United States Air Force base near Panama City, Florida, USA

Tyndall Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base located 12 miles (19 km) east of Panama City, Florida. The base was named in honor of World War I pilot 1st Lt. Frank Benjamin Tyndall. The base operating unit and host wing is the 325th Fighter Wing of the Air Combat Command (ACC). The base is delineated as a census-designated place and had a resident population of 2,994 at the 2010 census.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Michael 2018 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

On October 1, a broad area of low pressure formed over the southwestern Caribbean Sea, absorbing the remnants of Tropical Storm Kirk by the next day. [1] Early on October 2, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring the system for tropical development. [9] On the same day, the disturbance experienced a burst of convection, possibly associated with a tropical wave moving into the region, which led to a small surface low forming to the southwest of Jamaica on October 3. [1] While strong upper-level winds initially inhibited development, the disturbance gradually became better organized as it drifted generally northward and then eastward toward the Yucatán Peninsula. By October 6, the disturbance had developed well-organized deep convection, although it still lacked a well-defined circulation. The storm was also posing an immediate land threat to the Yucatán Peninsula and Cuba. Thus, the NHC initiated advisories on Potential Tropical Cyclone Fourteen at 21:00 UTC that day. [10] [11] By the morning of October 7, radar data from Belize found a closed center of circulation, while satellite estimates indicated a sufficiently organized convective pattern to classify the system as a tropical depression. [12] The newly-formed tropical cyclone then quickly strengthened into Tropical Storm Michael at 12:00 UTC that day. [1] The nascent system meandered before the center relocated closer to the center of deep convection, as reported by reconnaissance aircraft that was investigating the storm. [13] Despite moderate vertical wind shear, Michael proceeded to strengthen quickly, becoming a high-end tropical storm early on October 8, as the storm's cloud pattern became better organized. [14] Continued intensification occurred, and Michael attained hurricane status later on the same day. [1]

Caribbean Sea A sea of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North, Central, and South America

The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

National Hurricane Center division of the United States National Weather Service

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is the division of the United States' National Weather Service responsible for tracking and predicting tropical weather systems between the Prime Meridian and the 140th meridian west poleward to the 30th parallel north in the northeast Pacific Ocean and the 31st parallel north in the northern Atlantic Ocean. The agency, which is co-located with the Miami branch of the National Weather Service, is situated on the campus of Florida International University in University Park, Florida.

Tropical wave type of atmospheric trough

Tropical waves, easterly waves, or tropical easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics, and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeastern Pacific basins. A tropical wave study is aided by Hovmöller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

Strongest U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones Dagger-14-plain.png
RankHurricaneSeasonWind speed
1 "Labor Day" 1935 185295
2 Yutu 2018 180285
3 Karen 1962 175280
Camille 1969
5 Andrew 1992 165270
6 "Okeechobee" 1928 160260
Michael 2018
8 "Guam" 1900 155250
Maria 2017
"Last Island" 1856 150240
"Indianola" 1886
"Florida Keys" 1919
"Freeport" 1932
Charley 2004
Source: HURDAT, [15] Hurricane
Research Division, [16] NHC [17]
Dagger-14-plain.pngStrength refers to maximum sustained wind speed
upon striking land.

Shortly afterwards, rapid intensification ensued and very deep bursts of convection were noted within the eyewall of the growing hurricane, as it passed through the Yucatán Channel into the Gulf of Mexico late on October 8, clipping the western end of Cuba at Category 2 intensity. [1] Meanwhile, a 35-nautical-mile-wide (65 km) eye was noted to be forming. [18] The intensification process accelerated on October 9, with Michael becoming a major hurricane at 18:00 UTC that day. [1] Rapid intensification continued throughout the day as a well-defined eye appeared, culminating with Michael achieving its peak intensity at 17:30 UTC that day as a Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars (27.1 inHg). In just under 24 hours, its central pressure had fallen by 42 mbar (1.2 inHg). Simultaneously, Michael made landfall on the Gulf Coast of the United States near Mexico Beach, Florida, ranking by pressure as the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States, [1] and making it the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the contiguous United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The storm was originally considered a high-end Category 4 hurricane, but post-season reanalysis (which the NHC routinely performs for every tropical cyclone in their area of responsibility) concluded that it was indeed a Category 5 hurricane at this point. [1] [19]

Rapid intensification

Rapid intensification is a meteorological condition that occurs when a tropical cyclone intensifies dramatically in a short period of time. The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) defines rapid intensification as an increase in the maximum 1-min sustained winds of a tropical cyclone of at least 30 knots in a 24-hour period.

Yucatán Channel strait between Mexico and Cuba

The Yucatán Channel or Straits of Yucatán is a strait between Mexico and Cuba. It connects the Yucatán Basin of the Caribbean Sea with the Gulf of Mexico. It is just over 200 kilometres (120 mi) wide and nearly 2,800 metres (9,200 ft) deep at its deepest point near the coast of Cuba.

Gulf of Mexico An Atlantic Ocean basin extending into southern North America

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

The eye of Hurricane Michael near peak intensity, seen from the International Space Station on October 10 Astronaut Aunon-Chancellor's Photo of Hurricane Michael (45229616491).jpg
The eye of Hurricane Michael near peak intensity, seen from the International Space Station on October 10

Michael maintained Category 5 intensity for less than one hour; once inland, Michael began to rapidly weaken, as it moved over the inner Southeastern United States, with the eye dissipating from satellite view, weakening to a tropical storm roughly twelve hours after it made landfall. [1] Moving into the Carolinas early on October 11, the inner core of the storm collapsed as the storm's rainbands became prominent to the north of the center. Later that day, Michael began to show signs of becoming an extratropical cyclone, as it accelerated east-northeastward toward the Mid-Atlantic coastline, with cooler air beginning to wrap into the elongating circulation, due to an encroaching frontal zone; [20] it became extratropical at 00:00 UTC October 12. [1] Afterward, Michael began to restrengthen while moving off the coast, due to baroclinic forcing. Michael subsequently accelerated towards the east, strengthening into a powerful extratropical cyclone by October 14. [21] On October 15, Michael's extratropical remnant approached the Iberian Peninsula and turned sharply towards the southeast, [22] making landfall on Portugal early on October 16. Following landfall, Michael's remnant quickly weakened, dissipating later on the same day. [23] [24]

Southeastern United States Region

The Southeastern United States is broadly, the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It comprises at least a core of states on the lower Atlantic seaboard and eastern Gulf Coast. Expansively, it includes everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Ohio River and the 36°30' parallel, and as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana. There is no official U.S. government definition of the region, though various agencies and departments use different definitions.

The Carolinas Region

The Carolinas are the U.S. states of North Carolina and South Carolina, considered collectively. They are bordered by Virginia to the north, Tennessee to the west, and Georgia to the southwest. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east. Combining North Carolina's population of 10,042,802 and South Carolina's of 4,896,146, the Carolinas have a population of 14,938,948 as of 2015. If the Carolinas were a single state of the United States, it would be the fifth-most populous state, behind California, Texas, Florida, and New York. The Carolinas were known as the Province of Carolina during America's early colonial period, from 1663 to 1710. Prior to that, the land was considered part of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, from 1609 to 1663. The province, named Carolina to honor King Charles I of England, was divided into two colonies in 1729, although the actual date is the subject of debate.


A rainband is a cloud and precipitation structure associated with an area of rainfall which is significantly elongated. Rainbands can be stratiform or convective, and are generated by differences in temperature. When noted on weather radar imagery, this precipitation elongation is referred to as banded structure. Rainbands within tropical cyclones are curved in orientation. Tropical cyclone rainbands contain showers and thunderstorms that, together with the eyewall and the eye, constitute a hurricane or tropical storm. The extent of rainbands around a tropical cyclone can help determine the cyclone's intensity.



About 300 people were evacuated in western Cuba from the coast due to the storm. [25]

United States

President Donald Trump holding a briefing in the Oval Office in advance of Hurricane Michael Hurricane Briefing (30292409837).jpg
President Donald Trump holding a briefing in the Oval Office in advance of Hurricane Michael

On October 7, Governor Rick Scott announced that he would be declaring a state of emergency for Florida if needed, advising residents to be prepared for the incoming storm. [26] That day, a state of emergency was declared for 26 counties, and then 9 additional counties were added on October 8. Governor Scott also requested that President Donald Trump issue an emergency disaster declaration for 35 counties, with Trump approving of the request on October 9. [27] Officials in Bay, Gulf, and Wakulla counties issued mandatory evacuation orders on October 8 for those living near the coast, in mobile homes, or in other weak dwellings. [28] Florida State University's main campus in Tallahassee and a satellite campus in Panama City, Florida, were closed from October 9 through October 12. Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College closed several campuses through October 14, while weekend classes and events were canceled at the former. [29] Public schools were closed in 26 counties, mainly in the Florida Panhandle. [27] On October 8, Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches were issued for the Gulf Coast.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 92 counties in the southern and central portions of the state on October 9. Several colleges and universities in south Georgia were to close for a few days. [30]

Three hundred and seventy-five thousand people were asked to evacuate as the storm strengthened, with sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and storm surge up to 14 ft (4.3 m) expected. [31]


Deaths by country
United States 59 [1] [32]
Honduras 8
Nicaragua 4
El Salvador 3

Central America

The combined effects of the precursor low to Michael and a disturbance over the Pacific Ocean caused significant flooding across Central America. [33] At least 15 fatalities occurred: eight in Honduras, [34] 4 in Nicaragua, and 3 in El Salvador. [33] [35] In Honduras, torrential rain caused at least seven rivers to overtop their banks; nine communities became isolated. More than 1,000 homes sustained damage, of which 9 were destroyed, affecting more than 15,000 people. Nationwide, 78 shelters housed displaced persons and relief agencies procured 36 tonnes of aid. [34] Nearly 2,000 homes in Nicaragua suffered damage, and 1,115 people were evacuated. A total of 253 homes were damaged in El Salvador. [33] Damage across the region exceeded $100 million. [3]


About 70% of the offshore Isla de la Juventud lost power. [36] High winds left more than 200,000 people without power in the province of Pinar del Río. [25] Officials sent 500 power workers to the area to restore electricity. [25]

United States

Most intense landfalling tropical cyclones in the United States
Intensity is measured solely by central pressure
RankSystemSeasonLandfall pressure
1 "Labor Day" 1935 892 mbar (hPa)
2 Camille 1969 900 mbar (hPa)
Yutu 2018
4 Michael 2018 919 mbar (hPa)
5 Katrina 2005 920 mbar (hPa)
Maria 2017
7 Andrew 1992 922 mbar (hPa)
8 "Indianola" 1886 925 mbar (hPa)
9 "Guam" 1900 926 mbar (hPa)
10 "Florida Keys" 1919 927 mbar (hPa)
Source: HURDAT, [15] Hurricane
Research Division [16]

According to the Edison Electric Institute, at one point 1.2 million electricity customers were without power in several east coast and southern states. [37] Estimated damage from Michael throughout the United States reached $25 billion. [2]


Michael made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), at 12:30 CDT (17:30 UTC) on October 10, between Mexico Beach, Florida, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. [38] A wind gust of 139 mph (224 km/h) was recorded at Tyndall Air Force Base, along with sustained winds of 86 mph (138 km/h), before the station failed prior to the arrival of Michael's inner eyewall. The base sustained devastating wind damage after being directly impacted by the hurricane's violent eyewall. Every structure on the base sustained damage, and some were completely destroyed by the intense winds. Vehicles were tossed through parking lots and destroyed, large hangars were severely damaged, and an F-15 that was on display was flipped onto its roof. Large forests in the area were almost entirely flattened to the ground, while trees that remained standing on and around the base were completely stripped and denuded. Several F-22 fighters were also damaged, with a replacement value of about $6 billion if repair is not possible. [39] [4]

Aerial view of catastrophic storm surge and wind damage in Mexico Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Michael. The powerful surge swept numerous homes clean off their foundations while violent winds caused extensive structural damage. Mexico Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Michael 2018.png
Aerial view of catastrophic storm surge and wind damage in Mexico Beach, Florida, after Hurricane Michael. The powerful surge swept numerous homes clean off their foundations while violent winds caused extensive structural damage.

In Mexico Beach, catastrophic and widespread destruction occurred as many homes were flattened or completely swept away by a 14 ft (4.3 m) storm surge and Category 5 winds. The remnants of many homes were scattered across U.S. Route 98, which had large sections of pavement washed away. Entire neighborhoods in Mexico Beach were reduced to nothing but bare foundation slabs, and numerous vehicles, businesses, apartment buildings, and hotels throughout the community were destroyed or severely damaged. Countless trees in the area were snapped and denuded, including a few that sustained some debarking. [40] [41] The National Guard rescued about 20 people, while it was estimated that as many as 285 residents of the small town may have stayed. Severe damage from storm surge and intense winds also occurred at St. George Island, in Port St. Joe, and in Apalachicola, where a storm surge of 8.50 ft (2.59 m) was recorded. Downtown Port St. Joe sustained extensive damage, and the storm surge left boats and other debris deposited in yards, streets, and parking lots in town. Michael's intense eyewall caused major structural damage as far inland as Marianna, where buildings in the downtown area were severely damaged, leaving streets covered in bricks, lumber, and structural debris from collapsed roofs and walls. Homes and churches in town were heavily damaged, and countless trees and power lines were downed. [42] The hurricane also dropped torrential rainfall along its path, reaching 5.05 inches (128 mm) near Scotts Ferry. Debris on Interstate 10 resulted in the roadway being closed between Lake Seminole and Tallahassee, a distance of about 80 miles (130 km). In Tallahassee, many trees fell across the city and approximately 110,000 businesses and homes were left without electricity, while a sewer system failed. In Chattahoochee, the Florida State Hospital—the oldest and largest psychiatric hospital in the state—became isolated, forcing aid to be dropped by helicopter. [43] [ not in citation given ]

The western half of Michael's eyewall passed directly over Panama City, and violent winds caused widespread damage throughout the city and its suburbs. Numerous businesses including restaurants, gas stations, shopping centers, office buildings, retail stores, and hotels sustained major structural damage or were destroyed, including several structures that were completely leveled to the ground. In residential areas, homes and apartment buildings lost their roofs and exterior walls, and many trees were toppled, snapped, or completely defoliated. Vehicles were flipped and overturned, Jinks Middle School sustained destruction of its gymnasium, and a freight train was derailed as well. The powerful winds knocked out several television and radio stations near Panama City. NBC affiliate WJHG-TV and CBS affiliate WECP-LD were the first broadcast outlets to be affected, as their studio/transmitter link tower and parts of the studio's roof was destroyed. [44] ABC affiliate WMBB lost its main power and backup generator around 12:15 p.m. CDT. WMBB provided live coverage from its Nexstar Media Group-owned sister stations WFLA-TV in Tampa and WDHN in Dothan, Alabama, the latter of which, alongside CBS affiliate WTVY, was knocked off the air as Michael passed over the Wiregrass Region. iHeartMedia's Panama City radio cluster—WDIZ (590 AM), WEBZ (99.3 FM), WFLF-FM (94.5), WFSY (98.5 FM) and WPAP (92.5 FM)—switched to programming from the company's Tallahassee cluster as Michael made landfall, before the STL tower at their facility was felled; station staff were reported trapped at the facility due to flooding that also crept into the building. Other radio stations knocked off the air included WASJ [105.1 FM], WKNK [103.5 FM], WPFM [107.9 FM], WRBA [95.9 FM], WILN [105.9 FM], WWLY [100.1 FM], WYOO [101.1 FM], WYYX [97.7 FM], and Gulf Coast State College-owned WKGC-AM-FM (1480 and 90.7. [44] WPAP and WFSY returned to the air during the evening of October 10 with locally originated coverage, with WKGC following suit with programming originating from the Bay County Emergency Operations Center and using WMBB staff.) [44] Due to "catastrophic damage" sustained to its broadcast facility on Panama City Beach after it received water damage when a collapsed portion of its 150-foot (46 m) STL tower punched a hole in the roof of the building, Powell Broadcasting announced on October 13 that it would cease the operations of all of its Panama City radio stations. [45]

Four deaths occurred in Gadsden County, [46] and another three deaths occurred in Marianna, Jackson County. A body was discovered by rescue crews in Mexico Beach on October 12. [47] By October 28, a total of 35 people were officially confirmed to have been killed by the hurricane in Florida, with hundreds still unaccounted for. [48] By January 11, 2019, the death toll in Florida had increased to 47. [32] The NHC assessed that Michael caused a total of 50 deaths in Florida, by the time they released Michael's Tropical Cyclone Report in April 2019. [1]

Approximately 3 million acres of timber was damaged or destroyed statewide, costing an estimated $1.3 billion. Total agricultural loss statewide were at $1.49 billion, while property loss were almost $5 billion. [8] Insurance claims were at $5.53 billion. [5]


Downed trees and power lines on State Route 253 near Seminole County, Georgia Power of Hurricane Michael (30388815577).jpg
Downed trees and power lines on State Route 253 near Seminole County, Georgia

Michael crossed into Georgia in Donalsonville, where significant damage to structures and trees occurred. Tropical storm force wind gusts were observed as far north as Athens and Atlanta. More than 400,000 electrical customers in Georgia were left without power. At least 127 roads throughout the state were blocked by fallen trees or debris. [49] In Albany, where wind gusts reached 74 mph (119 km/h), [43] 24,270 electrical customers lost power. Numerous trees fell on homes and roads, blocking about 100 intersections. Winds also ripped siding off of homes and shattered windows at the convention center. A tornado in Crawford County damaged seven homes. [50] An 11-year-old girl in Seminole County died after debris fell on her home. [49]

Agriculture across the state suffered tremendous losses. As of October 18, estimated damage in the agriculture industry alone reached $2.38–2.89 billion. Forestry experienced the greatest losses at $1 billion, with about 1 million acres of trees destroyed. Described as a "generational loss", pecan farms in many areas were wiped out. Farmers were still recovering from damage incurred by Hurricane Irma during the preceding year. The entire crop in Seminole County was lost and 85 percent was lost in Decatur. Initially expected to be a record harvest, a large portion of the cotton crop—worth an estimated $300–800 million—was wiped out. Four hundred and eighty million dollars' worth of vegetables were destroyed. In the poultry industry, more than 2 million chickens died due to the storm, and the loss were about $25 million. [7] The insurance claims throughout the state were about $700 million. [6]


As the storm passed through North Carolina, 490,000 Duke Energy customers were left without power late on October 11. 342,000 remained without power in the state 24 hours later. [51] A tree fell on a car in Statesville, killing the driver. [52] Two others died in Marion when they crashed into a tree that had fallen across a road. [47]

In Virginia, four people including a firefighter were washed away by floodwaters, and another firefighter was killed in a vehicle accident on Interstate 295. [53] A sixth fatality was discovered when the body of a woman was found on October 13. [54] At least 1,200 roads were closed, and hundreds of trees were downed. Up to 600,000 people were left without power at the height of the storm. [47]

In Maryland, the remnants of Michael dropped 7 inches (180 mm) of rain over a period of a few hours in Wicomico County on October 11. Flooding from the Rockawalkin Creek damaged a portion of Maryland Route 349, forcing the road to be closed. [55] The remnants of Michael flooded homes in the Canal Woods neighborhood in Salisbury. [56]


President Trump distributes water in Florida on October 15 President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump Visit Florida and Georgia (44435938005).jpg
President Trump distributes water in Florida on October 15

On October 9—a day before Hurricane Michael made landfall—President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration for Florida, which authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster efforts, with Thomas McCool serving as Federal Coordinating Officer in the state. The declaration also authorized funding for 75% of the cost of emergency protective measures and the removal of storm debris in 14 Florida counties. The federal government also provided for 75% of the cost of emergency protective measures in an additional 21 counties. [57] On October 11, President Trump declared a major disaster in five counties: Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor, and Wakulla. Residents in the county were able to receive grants for house repairs, temporary shelter, loans for uninsured property losses, and business loans. [58]

Due to the storm damage in Georgia, President Trump also signed an emergency declaration for Georgia, where FEMA activity was coordinated by Manny J. Torro. The declaration authorized funding for 75% of the cost of emergency protective measures and the removal of storm debris in 31  Georgia counties, and 75% of the cost of emergency protective measures in an additional 77 counties. [59]

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has since requested, with the storm's elevation to Category 5, the federal relief share be increased from 75% to 90%. [60] Either value awaits passage of a specific relief package being delayed in the United States House of Representatives. [61]


On March 20, 2019, at the 41st session of the RA IV hurricane committee, the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Michael from its rotating name lists, due to the extreme damage and loss of life it caused along its track, particularly in the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia, and its name will never again be used for another Atlantic hurricane. It will be replaced with Milton for the 2024 season. [62]


Costliest U.S. Atlantic hurricanes
1 Katrina 2005 $125 billion
Harvey 2017
3 Maria 2017 $90 billion
4 Sandy 2012 $65 billion
5 Irma 2017 $53.4 billion
6 Ike 2008 $30 billion
7 Andrew 1992 $27 billion
8 Michael 2018 $25 billion
9 Florence 2018 $24 billion
10 Ivan 2004 $20.5 billion
Source: National Hurricane Center [63] [nb 2] [64]

With top sustained winds of 160 mph (260 km/h) and a central pressure of 919 mbar (27.14 inHg) at landfall, Michael was the most intense landfalling U.S. hurricane since Camille in 1969, which had a central pressure of 900 mbar (26.58 inHg), and the first landfalling Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in the U.S. since Andrew in 1992, which had 165 mph (270 km/h) winds. [38] Michael is tied with the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane for the sixth-strongest tropical cyclone by wind speed to impact the United States (including its overseas territories), and was the fourth strongest to impact the U.S. mainland. [65] Additionally, Michael was the second-most intense hurricane by pressure to make landfall in Florida, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, and the third strongest by wind, behind the 1935 hurricane and Andrew. [66]

Michael was the second-most intense hurricane to have made landfall during the month of October in the North Atlantic basin (including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea), behind the 1924 Cuba hurricane. [67] Michael was also the first recorded Category 4 or 5 hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since reliable records began in 1851. [68]

See also


  1. The Category 5 position depicted is an asynoptic point (i.e. not at the 6-hour intervals of all other points) at 17:30 UTC October 10 for geographic reference of peak intensity for convenience.
  2. All damage figures in this table are in the USD amounts of their respective year.

Related Research Articles

Hurricane Opal Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 1995

Hurricane Opal was a large and powerful Category 4 hurricane that caused severe and extensive damage along the northern Gulf Coast of the United States in October 1995. The ninth hurricane and strongest tropical cyclone of the unusually active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season, Opal developed from the interaction of a tropical wave and a low-pressure area near the Yucatán Peninsula on September 27. It then crossed the Yucatán Peninsula while still a tropical depression and intensified into a tropical storm on September 30. After entering the Gulf of Mexico and then becoming a hurricane on October 2, Opal turned northeastward and strengthened significantly. By October 4, Opal was an intense 150 mph (240 km/h), Category 4 hurricane. However, the cyclone abruptly weakened to a low-end Category 3 hurricane prior to making landfall in the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola later that day. The storm quickly weakened inland and became extratropical on October 5. The remnants of Opal persisted until dissipating over Ontario by the following day.

1965 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1965 Atlantic hurricane season was the first to use the modern-day bounds for an Atlantic hurricane season, which are June 1 to November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. It was one of the least active seasons on record, with only 6 tropical cyclones developing and reaching tropical storm intensity. Four of the storms strengthened into hurricanes. One system reached major hurricane intensity – Category 3 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale. The first system, an unnamed tropical storm, developed during the month of June in the Pacific Ocean, while located south of Guatemala. The storm moved northward across Central America, but caused no known impact in the region. It struck the Florida Panhandle and caused minor impact across much of the Southern United States. Tropical cyclogenesis halted for over two months, until Anna formed on August 21. The storm remained well away from land in the far North Atlantic Ocean and caused no impact.

1975 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1975 Atlantic hurricane season featured the first tropical storm to be upgraded to a hurricane based solely on satellite imagery – Hurricane Doris. The season officially began on June 1 and lasted until November 30. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season was near average, with nine tropical storms forming, of which six became hurricanes. Three of those six became major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the Saffir–Simpson scale. The first system, Tropical Depression One, developed on June 24. Tropical Storm Amy in July caused minor beach erosion and coastal flooding from North Carolina to New Jersey, and killed one person when a ship capsized offshore North Carolina. Hurricane Blanche brought strong winds to portions of Atlantic Canada, leaving about $6.2 million (1975 USD) in damage. Hurricane Caroline brought high tides and flooding to northeastern Mexico and Texas, with two drownings in the latter.

1985 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1985 Atlantic hurricane season had 6 U.S. landfalling hurricanes, which was the highest number in 99 years. The season officially began on June 1 and lasted until November 30. It was an average season, with 11 named storms developing. This was partially attributed to a La Niña – a meteorological phenomenon that produces favorable conditions across the Atlantic basin, such as lower wind shear and higher sea surface temperatures. The first storm, Ana, developed on July 15 near Bermuda and caused minor effects in Canada while transitioning into an extratropical cyclone. Three other tropical cyclones – Claudette, Henri, and Isabel – did not significantly affect land. Claudette developed offshore of the Southeastern United States and brushed Bermuda and the Azores. Henri and Isabel were dissipating as they approached land. However, the precursor of the latter caused a severe flood in Puerto Rico that killed 180 people. Additionally, Tropical Storm Fabian and three tropical depressions did not have any known impact on land.

1938 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1938 Atlantic hurricane season began earlier than any Atlantic hurricane season on record lasting from January 3 through October 31. The season was generally quiet with 9 tropical cyclones and 4 becoming hurricane strength, 2 of which became major hurricane equivalent.

1929 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1929 Atlantic hurricane season was among the least active hurricane seasons in the Atlantic on record – featuring only five tropical cyclones. Of these five tropical systems, three of them intensified into a hurricane, with one strengthening further into a major hurricane. The first tropical cyclone of the season developed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 27. Becoming a hurricane on June 28, the storm struck Texas, bringing strong winds to a large area. Three fatalities were reported, while damage was conservatively estimated at $675,000 (1929 USD).

1919 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1919 Atlantic hurricane season was among the least active hurricane seasons in the Atlantic on record, featuring only five tropical storms. Of those five tropical cyclones, two of them intensified into a hurricane, with one strengthening into a major hurricane Two tropical depressions developed in the month of June, both of which caused negligible damage. A tropical storm in July brought minor damage to Pensacola, Florida, but devastated a fleet of ships. Another two tropical depressions formed in August, the first of which brought rainfall to the Lesser Antilles.

1899 Atlantic hurricane season hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean

The 1899 Atlantic hurricane season featured the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin on record. There were nine tropical storms, of which five became hurricanes. Two of those strengthened into major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the modern day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The first system was initially observed in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico on June 26. The tenth and final system dissipated near Bermuda on November 10. These dates fall within the period with the most tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. In post-season analysis, two tropical cyclones that existed in October were added to HURDAT – the official Atlantic hurricane database. At one point during the season, September 3 through the following day, a set of three tropical cyclones existed simultaneously.

Hurricane Erin (1995) Category 2 Atlantic hurricane in 1995

Hurricane Erin was the fifth named tropical cyclone and the second hurricane of the unusually active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. Erin began as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa on July 22, but the storm crossed most of the Atlantic ocean without developing. On July 31, it developed a closed circulation and became a tropical storm. It made landfall on the central eastern Florida coastline as a Category 1 hurricane on August 2 and again along the Florida Panhandle as a Category 2 hurricane on August 3, causing a moderate amount of damage. The system reached its peak strength of 100 mph (155 km/h) and 973 millibars in central pressure just prior to the second landfall.

Meteorological history of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive Category 5 hurricane that affected the majority of the Gulf Coast. Its damaging trek began on August 23, 2005 when it originated as Tropical Depression Twelve near the Bahamas. The next day, the tropical depression strengthened to a tropical storm, and was named Katrina; it proceeded to make landfall on the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida as a minimal hurricane.

Tropical Storm Arlene (2005) Atlantic tropical storm in 2005

Tropical Storm Arlene was an unusually large and early-forming tropical storm, being the first of twenty-eight different storms during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which would become the most active season on record. Tropical Storm Arlene formed near Honduras on June 8 and moved northwards. It crossed western Cuba on June 10 and strengthened to just under hurricane strength before making its final landfall on the Florida Panhandle the next day. The storm weakened as it continued to move north over the United States, becoming extratropical on June 13. Arlene was responsible for only one death and minor damages.

The 1903 Florida hurricane was an Atlantic hurricane that caused extensive wind and flood damage on the Florida peninsula and over the adjourning Southeastern United States in early to mid September 1903. The third tropical cyclone and third hurricane of the season, this storm was first observed near Mayaguana island in the Bahamas early on September 9. Moving northwestward, it became a hurricane the next day and passed near Nassau. The cyclone then turned to the west-northwest on September 11 and passed just north of the Bimini Islands. As it crossed the Bahamas, the cyclone produced hurricane-force winds that caused damage to crops and buildings, but no deaths were reported over the island chain.

Effects of Hurricane Katrina in Florida

The effects of Hurricane Katrina in Florida were in both in the southern portion of the state and in the panhandle. After developing on August 23, Katrina made landfall near the border of Broward and Miami-Dade counties with 80 mph (130 km/h) winds on August 25. While it was crossing the state, the hurricane's convection was asymmetrical, primarily located to the south and east of the center. As a result, high rainfall totals occurred in the Miami area, peaking at 16.43 in (417 mm) in Perrine. The rains caused flooding, and the combination of rains and winds downed trees and power lines, leaving 1.45 million people without power. Damage in South Florida was estimated at $523 million (2005 USD), mostly as a result of crop damage. Further south, the hurricane spawned a tornado in the Florida Keys. In the island chain, Katrina dropped heavy rainfall and gusty winds.

Tropical Storm Becky (1970) Atlantic tropical storm in 1970

Tropical Storm Becky was the second tropical cyclone and named storm of the 1970 Atlantic hurricane season. Becky formed from a tropical depression that was designated on July 19. The next day it organized over the Yucatán Channel and became Tropical Storm Becky. Initially thought to have attained minimal hurricane status, Becky reached peak winds of 65 mph (100 km/h), but the storm began to deteriorate shortly thereafter. The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle on July 22, and rapidly weakened over land. Overall, damage was related to heavy rainfall that caused flooding in Tallahassee, Florida; 104 families suffered flood-related losses. About $500,000 in damage was attributed to the storm. Further north, the heavy rainfall swelled rivers. Becky may have been partially responsible for spawning tornadoes that destroyed or damaged several houses.

1941 Florida hurricane Category 3 Atlantic hurricane in 1941

The 1941 Florida hurricane was a compact but strong tropical cyclone that affected the Bahamas, Florida, and the southeastern United States in October 1941. The fifth known storm of the 1941 Atlantic hurricane season, it was first observed to the north of the Virgin Islands on October 3. The storm tracked generally westward, reaching peak winds of 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) before passing through the Bahamas. After weakening somewhat, the storm later passed across southern Florida with winds of 100 mph (161 km/h). The hurricane then emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm, but regained hurricane intensity and made another landfall along the Florida Panhandle. Turning northeast, it crossed Georgia and South Carolina, and entered the Atlantic Ocean on October 8.

1946 Florida hurricane Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 1946

The 1946 Florida hurricane also known as the 1946 Tampa Bay hurricane was the last hurricane to make direct landfall in the Tampa Bay Area of the U.S. state of Florida to date. Forming on October 5 from the complex interactions of several weather systems over the southern Caribbean Sea, the storm rapidly strengthened before striking western Cuba. After entering the Gulf of Mexico, it peaked with winds corresponding to Category 2 status on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale; however, it quickly weakened before approaching Florida. It made landfall south of St. Petersburg and continued to weaken as it proceeded inland. Its remnants persisted for several days longer.

Tropical Storm Gordon (2018) Atlantic tropical storm in 2018

Tropical Storm Gordon was a tropical storm that caused moderate damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States in early September 2018. The seventh named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Gordon developed from a tropical wave that was first monitored in the Caribbean Sea on August 30. The wave moved west-northwestward toward the east coast of Florida and gradually organized. The disturbance was marked as Potential Tropical Cyclone Seven on September 2 while near the Bahamas, and early on September 3, it became Tropical Storm Gordon, moving onto the southwest coast of Florida shortly afterward. Steady intensification began after it left the coast of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, reaching its peak intensity as a high-end tropical storm late on September 4, before it made landfall just east of Pascagoula, Mississippi, shortly afterwards. Gordon then rapidly weakened inland, before weakening into a remnant low on September 6. Gordon's remnants lingered over Arkansas for two days, and opened up into a trough on September 8. At least three deaths were attributed to the storm, and Gordon caused approximately $200–250 million in damages.


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