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On Wednesday afternoon, Hurricane Michael became one of the most intense hurricanes to ever strike the United States as it unleashed catastrophic winds and storm surge across the Florida Panhandle.
“This is a worst case scenario for the Florida Panhandle,” National Weather Service (NWS) Director Dr. Louis Uccellini said.
Hurricane Michael was just shy of Category 5 status when it made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and even higher wind gusts.
Flooding, strong winds from Michael to rip a path of damage across mid-Atlantic
Michael's winds blows out condo doors and shatters glass
Ferocious Hurricane Michael winds rip off roofs, send debris flying
"The minimum central pressure is probably the most accurate way to measure the intensity of a hurricane," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Many anemometers are destroyed by debris or blown away at wind speeds above 100 mph. Hence, there are a lack of measurements of high-speed winds on land.
"The lower the pressure, the more intense the storm. The storm is literally drawing air from the surface and propelling it upward like a giant vacuum cleaner. Air then must rush from the sides near the ground to compensate. This is what produces the high winds that cause the damage and contribute to storm surge flooding," Sosnowski said.
When Michael made landfall, it had a minimum central pressure of 27.13 inches of mercury. This makes it the 3rd-most intense US land-falling hurricane with a pressure lower than Katrina and Andrew.
"Based on central pressure and looking at some of the damage photos and videos coming in, I would not be shocked if Michael is upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane after official review," Sosnowski said.
The NWS issued an extreme wind warning for 250,000 people as the historic hurricane made landfall. “Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching,” the NWS said.
Significant, widespread damage has been reported in areas near where Michael made landfall, but the full scope of the damage will be unknown until conditions improve.
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Much cooler and less humid air is forecast to make its way into the Deep South, including Michael-slammed areas of Florida and Georgia this weekend, before the potential for heavy rain later next week.
Despite Tropical Rainstorm Tara weakening, Mexico remains on high alert as a new tropical threat is expected to develop in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Peak oyster season is right around the corner, starting in November, however the recent destruction of Hurricane Michael is impacting aquaculture farms in Florida.
Cloud-free conditions will allow much of the United States to see this weekend’s Orionid meteor shower, the first major shower of the fall.
The upcoming winter across Europe will feature damaging windstorms, flooding rainfall and unseasonable warmth.
Areas of Texas that have been inundated with flooding downpours since last week will face more heavy rainfall before a needed reprieve this weekend.
A dangerous flooding situation unfolded in south-central Texas Tuesday morning near the town of Llano, as heavy rain exacerbated ongoing river flooding, prompting evacuations and a bridge collapse.