10 October 2018

Category 4 Hurricane Michael poised to make historic landfall on Florida panhandle today

Similar to Hurricane Harvey last August, Michael went from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in the two days leading up to landfall.  But what makes this even worse is that the Florida panhandle has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane in recorded history.  The magnitude of the destruction from wind and storm surge will be unprecedented in this area.

Some of the most notorious major hurricane landfalls in the region were Opal 1995, Ivan 2004, and Dennis 2005, but all of them weakened from Cat-4s to Cat-3s as they approached the coast.  Michael is still strengthening.

Landfall, defined to be when the center crosses the coastline, is expected to occur around 2pm EDT today, but the storm is much  more than a landfall point of course.  Heavy rainbands and building storm surge are already impacting hundreds of miles of coastline, and conditions will deteriorate rapidly during the day. Peak storm surge levels could be 14 feet just east of the landfall point and destructive winds will plow well inland through Alabama, Georgia, and even South Carolina and North Carolina tomorrow.

You can monitor storm surge at select stations at https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/quicklook/view.html?name=Michael
and I have several long, updating radar loops at http://andrew.rsmas.miami.edu/bmcnoldy/tropics/radar/

Looking much further east, Leslie is a hurricane again, and although it's been 18 days since it formed, it shows no signs of leaving the picture.  Yesterday, most models were suggesting it would become extratropical and head toward Portugal/Morocco, but now more are falling into line with a turn toward the south and back into the Atlantic.  So, it could be around for another week or two.

Tropical Storm Nadine has already made the anticipated northward turn and is forecast to dissipate this weekend.

1 comment:

  1. This hurricane season has been an interesting one. Good ol mother nature seemed to flip the hurricane switch once the calendar page turned to September. I hope that everyone in the path of Michael stayed safe.

    Leslie has been spinning for a while. Do you think she has a chance to beat the record set by John in 1994?