WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

Hurricane Michael's Greatest Hits

By Jesse Ferrell
10/18/2018, 1:15:53 PM

Hurricane Michael roared ashore as a strong Category 4 storm near Tyndall Air Force Base, not wavering as it moved over the Florida Panhandle. It was only one mph below Category 5 status. This image shows the infrared satellite from AccuWeather as it made landfall.

Hurricane Michael's Eye Passes over Panama City

The radar at landfall was no less impressive.

Hurricane Michael Radar Landfall

Complete statistics (with the asterisks below) are available from NOAA WPC.

Wind gusts were measured to 129 mph at Tyndall (this reading shows on the satellite map above because wind readings stay on the map for an hour, even as the satellite moves over them. In the eye, it was actually calm, and there are storm chaser videos showing it. Seven other weather stations on land (but none over water) reported winds over 100 mph.

  • Tyndall AFB, FL: 129 mph
  • Magnolia Beach, FL: 116 mph
  • Milltown, FL: 113 mph
  • Panama City, FL: 107
  • Port Saint Joe, FL: 106 mph
  • Marianna, FL: 102 mph
  • St. Andrew Bay, FL: 101 mph

The images below show the RTMA analysis of the wind speeds as well as recorded wind gusts, which topped 70 mph were reported all the way into Virginia. (SEE ALSO: Wind map & report via Dr. Prevatt @ UFL & NWS Eastern Region wind gust list).

Hurricane Michael  Wind Maps (NWS) - Final

Highest Wind Gusts by State:

Tyndall AFB, FL: 129 mph
Grandfather Mountain, NC: 88 mph*
Midground Lighthouse, VA: 85 mph
Arabi, GA: 76 mph**
Dothan, AL: 68 mph
Smith Island, MD: 67 mph
Lewes Beach, DE: 62 mph
Dewees Island, SC: 61 mph

*The highest coastal reading was 71 mph at Pamlico Sound, NC, which appears on the WPC report. The station at Grandfather Mountain is run by NC State CRONOS.

**The NWS Tallahassee quoted Donalsonville, GA, Muni Arpt (K17J) with a 115-mph wind gust, but the station failed following the reading with a 58-kt wind gust, so I do not believe this reading, based on nearby readings. NWS-TLH did not respond on Twitter to a query from me.

Rainfall amounts were much less than Florence, because of Michael's faster forward speed. Still, up to a foot of rain fell in a very limited area of Florida and North Carolina.

Hurricane Michael Rain, Final NWS Map

Highest Rainfall Amounts by State: (over 5 inches)

  • Black Mountain, NC: 11.46"
  • Bowling Green, VA: 8.04"
  • Fruitland, MD: 7.89"
  • Jefferson, SC: 7.39"
  • Marianna, FL: 7.15"*
  • Red Lion, NJ: 6.52"
  • Powder Springs, GA: 6.48"
  • Rehobeth, AL: 5.33"
  • Dagsboro, DE: 5.69"

*The official WPC report quoted the max as 5.57" at Chipola River at State Road. CoCoRahs had a multiday rainfall total of 6.67" at one station in Florida but I found another USGS station
that totaled 7.15." The WPC said in a tweet to me that the data was likely sound.

The highest storm surge I saw was about 8.3 feet at Apalachicola, Florida, to the east of the storm where the winds were perpendicular to the shore. There aren't many tidal stations in the area. Panama City had a more sudden rise to about 5.7 feet above normal tide levels.

Surges During Hurricane Michael

Preliminarily, there were 17 tornadoes spawned by Michael:

Because there were no barrier islands, and because the storm maintained strength and was moving fast, the damage was nothing short of extraordinary. I pulled about a dozen before-and-after images from the NOAA aerial imagery for this story, where you can see them with sliders to move across the images, and there's a video below.. You can also download the raw shots here.

Well-built homes were completely destroyed by the storm surge at Mexico Beach. Damage in Panama City was slightly greater than Mexico Beach. The storm killed at least 29 people, and some are still missing. The damage from the storm to the infrastructure of the Mexico Beach area was incredible. This is a cell phone tower after the storm (credit: Verizon).

Hurricane Michael Cell Tower

And here is a power transmission tower (Reuters). This just goes to show the power of this storm.

Hurricane Michael Transmission Tower

The video that Reed TImmer and Jonathan Petramala captured for AccuWeather was flat-out insane:

There are hundreds of videos, but the two above and the two below (not taken by us) are the ones that will stick in my memory as the worst from the storm:

One of the best, most unique videos that we produced was the 360 helicopter view of damage in Mexico Beach, Florida:

(( 360 VIDEO )) Go fullscreen & turn phone, pan with mouse, or watch in VR 360 GoPro Fusion footage from helicopter damage survey over the worst of Hurricane Michael's storm surge damage in Mexico Beach, FL.

Posted by AccuWeather on Saturday, October 13, 2018

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)