Hurricane Michael Is the Third Most Powerful Storm to Ever Hit the U.S. Mainland

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Fla. on Wednesday with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. That put it just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, which would require wind speeds of 157 mph, but Michael is nevertheless one of the strongest storms to ever strike the American mainland.

Michael was continuing to intensify even as it made landfall Wednesday, an unusual phenomenon that surprised some experts. Hurricanes typically lose power as they move inland away from the warm waters that fuel them and encounter less favorable wind conditions.

“I think that if people are comparing storms, what was really fascinating was that it was still intensifying when it was making landfall, which is similar to Hurricane Camille also intensifying as it moved inland,” says AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. “Other storms like Hurricane Opal in 1995 actually went from a Category 4 to 3, just like most storms that make landfall on the Gulf Coast tend to weaken.”

There are several ways to measure a hurricane’s strength. The most recognizable measurement, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, rates hurricanes from 1-5 based on their sustained wind speeds. But hurricanes can also be measured by their barometric pressure: generally speaking, the lower the pressure, the more intense the storm. And so far, Hurricane Michael’s pressure ranks as the third-lowest for any hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland, at 919 millibars. The only storms with lower pressure were Hurricane Camille in 1969, and the unnamed Labor Day hurricane of 1935.

Table of 10 strongest continental US landfalling #hurricanes on record as ranked by minimum sea level pressure at landfall. #Michael ranks 3rd with a landfall pressure of 919 hPa.

— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) October 10, 2018

But Kottlowski noted that meteorologists are still …read more

Source:: Time – Science


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