NWS upgrades Hurricane Michael to historic Category 5 storm

South Florida Task Force Two Search and Rescue Team checks a trailer for survivors. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

April 20 (UPI) — When Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle last fall, it was a Category 5 storm — the first to hit the United States in a quarter-century and just one of four ever to make landfall at that strength, meteorologists said Friday.

Michael was classified as a Category 4 storm when it arrived on Oct. 10, but the National Hurricane Center revised the storm to Category 5 strength in a new analysis Friday.

Michael was responsible for an estimated $25 billion in damages.

The last storm to arrive in the United States at that strength was Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The other two storms that hit the United States with Category 5 strength are the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969. In 2017, both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey hit with Category 4 strength, and Hurricane Katrina arrived in 2005 a Category 3 storm.

The report said Michael produced estimated storm surges of up to 14 feet above ground level in Florida’s Bay and Gulf Counties, with the highest recorded at Mexico Beach. It also caused heavy rains in portions of western Cuba and produced 16 tornadoes in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Officials said Michael was directly responsible for 16 deaths in the United States.


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