BIRMINGHA, Ala (WIAT) – Hurricane Micahel is now a category five and one of the strongest hurricanes to ever strike the mainland U.S.
According to the National Hurricane Center, after a post-storm analysis, Michael had winds of 160 mph at landfall, making it a category 5 storm. This is an upgrade from the analysis this fall that rated Michael as a category 4 with winds of 155 mph..
This may seem like a nominal change, but in the record books, it’s a significant distinction. Michael is now the first category 5 to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew smacked South Florida in 1992. The only other Cat 5s to strike the U.S. in recorded history are the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.
The final intensity measurement was determined by a review of all available data, including aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressure, satellite intensity and doppler radar velocity. A lot of this data was not available in real time and the 155 mph strength was an estimate at the time.
While category 5 winds were only experienced over a small area around landfall, wind and storm surge damage accounted for 16 deaths and $25 billion in damage, much of that along the Florida Panhandle, Southeast Alabama and Southwest Georgia.