Hurricane Michael upgraded to rare Category 5 storm at time of landfall

Posted April 23, 2019

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

Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

More than six months since Hurricane Michael sawed through the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center has upgraded the storm to a Category 5 rating.

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The reclassification came after scientists analyzed wind speeds and other data that weren't available during the actual storm, including aircraft winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities.

NOAA was able to make this determination based on data that was gathered after the storm had already hit the coast, piecing together the true intensity of the storm after it had been declared a category 4 based on real-time observations. And, according to a new report from the National Hurricane Center, it appears they got it.

"The 5 knot (5 mph) increase in the estimated maximum sustained wind speed from the operational estimate is small and well within the normal range of uncertainty", NOAA said on its website. Another 43 deaths in Florida were associated indirectly with Michael: falls during cleanup after the storm, medical issues made worse by it, and traffic accidents.

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Jay Trumbull, State Representative, District 6, said, "It's validation for the people that lived through one of the most incredible, devastating storms our country has ever seen".

Julie Sombathy, a member of Michael's Angels, said, "We were all very excited about it, it has a lot of benefit from the person insured's perspective but most of all it's what we all knew anyway and it gives Congress more incentive to do something.191 days out". Today, the population has dipped to about 400 people and there are less than 500 structures standing. "It's just another number", Cathey said Friday. There's a 39 percent chance for at least one major hurricane to occur this season, according to CSU estimates. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 had a central pressure of 892 millibars while Hurricane Camile had a central pressure of 900 millibars.

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