Helping Business Weather the Storm

A Look Back at Hurricane Michael

by David Moran, on Oct 15, 2018 1:53:02 PM

Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday and continued to move across the Southeast through early Friday, bringing a path of destruction in its wake.

Just after noon on Wednesday, Hurricane Michael made landfall as a category 4  hurricane near Mexico Beach, Florida, packing sustained winds of 155 mph. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.25.46 AM
Hurricane Michael Shortly before Landfall

Damage occurred soon after making landfall, especially near Panama City and Tallahassee.

One particular bank building in Panama City was heavily damaged as Michael moved inland.

Michael continued to move northward across the Florida Panhandle through the afternoon, bringing heavy rain to many areas. A swath of 5-7 inches with locally higher amounts more than 8 inches fell from Panama City northward to just east of Dothan, AL, leading to flash flooding. Here are rainfall estimates from WeatherOps Commander. Pink shades indicate rainfall totals between 5-7 inches. White shades are totals over 8 inches.

Rainfall totals from Hurricane Michael 10/10/18
Rainfall totals from Hurricane Michael

The combination of heavy rainfall and storm surge caused catastrophic flooding across the Florida Panhandle. While the Panama City area took the brunt of the damage, flooding occurred as far east as Apalachicola.

As Michael continued to move northeastward Wednesday evening through early Thursday, heavy rain moved across southern and south central portions of Georgia. The heaviest rainfall totals generally ranged 4-6 inches. 

Georgia Rainfall Totals
Georgia Rainfall Totals

Michael weakened to a tropical storm over Georgia late Wednesday evening. As it continued to move northeastward, it brought strong winds, tornadoes, and flooding to portions of Georgia and the Carolinas. 

As Michael continued to move northeastward, flooding was observed across the Carolinas with rainfall amounts of 6-8 inches falling across north-central North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.

24 Hour Rainfall for the Carolinas ending at Noon EDT October 12
24 Hour Rainfall for the Carolinas ending at Noon EDT October 12

Michael caused significant flooding near Columbia, SC. 

As the storm continued northeastward into North Carolina and Virginia, widespread power outages were reported; as of late Thursday night, nearly 600,000 customers were in the dark. There were also numerous reports of downed trees.

Michael continued to move northeastward into southeastern Virginia, producing eight tornadoes (per SPC Storm Reports). The rain was so heavy in one area that the road was washed out. 

Michael moved off the East Coast Friday morning and became a post-tropical cyclone. Numerous people remain missing, and first responders are having trouble getting to areas. There are lessons to be learned from this storm and building codes to be improved.

Here are a few facts about Michael:

  • In terms of pressure, Michael was the most intense US landfalling hurricane since Camille in 1969.
  • It was the third most intense US landfalling hurricane in terms of wind in history.
  • Michael was the second most intense October landfalling hurricane in history.
  • In terms of wind, Michael was the most intense since Andrew in 1992.