CAT4 Hurricane Michael will be the strongest on record to hit Florida panhandle – maybe

GOES16 ABI Image of Hurricane Michael taken on 2018-10-10 14:52:18 UTC

Note, about 5 minutes after publication, the “maybe” was added. See statement from Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. below.

By Michael Bastasch

Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 4 storm on Wednesday morning as it barrels towards the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas. When it strikes, it will be the most powerful storm on record to hit the region, according to officials.

“This is an unprecedented event as there are no Category 4 storms on record to have made landfall along the Florida Panhandle coast,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in its latest storm warning.

Michael wields maximum sustained winds of 145 mph and threatens to bring heavy rainfall and a massive storm surge — up to 12 feet in parts of northwestern Florida. (RELATED: Rick Scott Issues Dire Warning Ahead Of Hurricane Michael)

Nine major hurricanes have made landfall on the Florida Panhandle since 1851, according to meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. However, none of them were at Category 4 strength when hitting land.

Only 7 hurricanes to hit Florida have had a lower central pressure reading than Michael, according to Klotzbach. After landfall, Michael is expected to weaken and head northeast, dumping rain as it goes.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged residents to be prepared for catastrophic, life-threatening storm damages.

“This is your last chance to get prepared for this monstrous and deadly storm. Hurricane Michael has already taken lives in Central America. Let me be clear,” Scott warned during a Tuesday press conference.

“Hurricane Michael is going to hit very near to where we are in Franklin County as a dangerous and life-threatening major hurricane, and if you don’t follow the warnings from these officials, the storm could kill you,” the Republican added.

Likewise, the NWS officials warned there “is an increasing threat for tornadoes this morning as rain bands are already moving onshore.”

“Michael is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, widespread power outages that will last days to even more than a week in some areas, downed trees that will block access to roads and endanger individuals, structural damage to homes and businesses, isolated flash flooding and the potential for tornadoes,” NWS said in its latest report.

“Trees falling on homes will become a dangerous and potentially deadly situation,” NWS warned. “The time for preparations is quickly ending.”

Out in the Gulf of Mexico, oil companies evacuated personnel from dozens of offshore rigs. About 40 percent of offshore oil production and nearly one-third of natural gas production has been shut in as the storm moves past.


Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. says this on Twitter this morning:

Following the link we get this from Elgin AFB:

A History of Hurricanes in the Western Florida Panhandle 1559-1999
46th Weather Squadron, Eglin AFB, FL

This summary of hurricanes and tropical storms that have impacted the Panhandle focuses mainly on the area near Eglin AFB (coastal Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton Counties). It includes some storms for which the eye did not actually make landfall in this immediate area, but the local effects were significant. It also includes many storms which had a greater impact on Pensacola or the Panama City/Big Bend region than on the immediate Ft. Walton Beach area. It uses tracks and historical records compiled by Chris Landsea and others at NOAA maintained at the Unisys Hurricane Archive at Purdue University, as well as records maintained at Eglin AFB, and the National Hurricane Center. Finally, it also was derived from accounts listed in Hurricane Effects: Choctawhatchee Bay Area, produced in 1972 by Brent Walker, Staff Meteorologist, ADTC (now the Air Armament Center) Eglin AFB,  Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, by John M. Williams, and Iver W. Duedall, 1997, published by the University Press of Florida, and Hurricanes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, 1717 to Present, by Charles L. Sullivan, 1987, published by Gulf Publishing Co. Special thanks also to Mr. Edward Keppel and to Gary Padgett, hurricane historian “extraordinaire” for their inputs and review.

A plot of the 52 hurricanes and tropical storms that have passed within 60 miles of Eglin AFB since 1886. 27 were hurricanes. Of these, 10 were Category 1 storms (winds 74-95 MPH),  5  were Category 2 (96-110 MPH), 6  were Category 3 (111-130 MPH), 6 were Category 4 (131-155 MPH). Since 1886, no Category 5 (156 MPH or more) hurricanes have passed within 60 miles of the base.


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October 10, 2018 8:18 am

This is a fast mover! Hope people are taking this seriously, that is all low coast and the surge will likely go pretty far inland. Our local electric company is already getting trucks and gear ready to head south.

kent beuchert
October 10, 2018 8:22 am

I remember the prediction of a “Cat 4 or Cat 5” Florence and how it was barely a Cat 1 when it actually touched shore. Within a few miles it was downgraded to a tropical storm. We’ll see exactly how strong this storm is when it comes ashore and exactly and how long it remains a major hurricane – it won’t last long, apparently. The media , especially the wildly exaggerating Weather Channel, has always
trumped up the dangers.

Reply to  kent beuchert
October 10, 2018 8:27 am

Looking at current satellite imagery it is still strong and coming in fast. Going to be fairly bad.

Reply to  kent beuchert
October 10, 2018 9:57 am

This one will be stronger than Florence at landfall, but will move through much more quickly, so the damage will be less. The coastal water temps are warmer than they were for Florence, so it will not significantly weaken until it hits land.

Van Doren
Reply to  kent beuchert
October 10, 2018 10:26 am

I can see 61kts at most
It isn’t even a hurricane. NOAA lies are getting more and more brazen.

Not Chicken Little
Reply to  Van Doren
October 10, 2018 11:13 am

On ABC TV at the time of landfall the crawl at the bottom said “150 mph winds” but then (only briefly) they showed a screen with reported windspeeds on land around the eye at varying distances – most were in the 70-80 mph range with only a few in the 90s.

Mumbles McGuirck
October 10, 2018 8:31 am

Latest air recon shows central pressure continues to drop. Surface winds are up to 115 kt.
I’m afraid this storm will hit with at least Cat 4 winds.

David C
October 10, 2018 8:35 am

I am not sure how current all the information of the following sites compared with the weather pages. But I always find it fascinating to see how the storms are measured and progress.,28.07,3000/loc=-85.496,29.476

October 10, 2018 8:37 am

Hurricanes interact with land and if they are a slow mover (Florence), they will lose intensity prior to making landfall. If they come barreling in they don’t have time to decrease much.

A direct hit of a fast moving hurricane carries it’s wind speed and storm surge farther inland. Hugo, Camille, Hazel and many more are all examples of these. Michael is going to be another one. It also has the possibility to regenerate some as it comes off the NC/VA coast for one final hurrah.

Reply to  rbabcock
October 10, 2018 8:49 am

resistance on the land can also make the eye spin down get tighter and spin faster=stronger

October 10, 2018 8:39 am

“it will be the most powerful storm on record to hit the region”

Camille was obviously a 5…if that’s not the region then what is

Narrowing the region down so they can claim this is more headline making though

Reply to  Latitude
October 10, 2018 9:32 am

Camille hit further west, just east of the Mississippi delta. Michael is going to be the strongest storm to hit the Florida panhandle.

Reply to  Don
October 10, 2018 3:40 pm

Camille, the gold standard of hurricanes, made landfall precisely on Gulfport, MS. I remember. Eyewall was still tight and well defined as it passed over my grandfather’s farm in Pearl River county.

Reply to  Latitude
October 10, 2018 1:51 pm

agreed. in 1969 I was stationed at Pensacola when Camille blew thru. I was working in the first lieutenant’s office at the time (basically, base maint), and for the next few weeks we were trucked out to areas around I-10 for cleanup duty. The devastation was unreal. actually saw a sailboat on the landward side of I-10 over on its side. Camille was the true monster storm, and calling every storm that blows by a ‘monster’ storm is boy-crying-wolf. I have no doubt this is a very large storm, but let’s not call it the biggest ever.
note to trolls: the first lieutenant’s office (or division, or whatever) is not a rank in the navy. it is a job, responsible for base maint, lawmowing, washing the captain’s car, etc.

Reply to  Pablo
October 10, 2018 3:34 pm

I was 9 years old when Camille hit and on vacay when it hit. The motel across the street was named the “Omega Inn”. My dad joked “they can’t build any more inns since Omega means Last”.

The next day (when we saw it leveled) I said “I guess they can build again”.

Reply to  Pablo
October 10, 2018 3:45 pm

There were 2 deep water freighters pushed a mile inland, had to dig channel to get them out. Two of my uncles worked for B&R at the time and worked that job. Ingalls Shipbuilding took heavy damage, too. The “hurricane proof USGC station”, newly built next the Gulfport Commercial Port, vanished. Camille, The Gold Standard of hurricanes.

October 10, 2018 8:44 am

I guess AGW does cause stronger hurricanes.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  C. Paul Pierett
October 10, 2018 8:54 am

C. Paul Pierett ,
Did you read the submission by Roger Pielke Sr.?

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 10, 2018 9:11 am

Currently it’s 150 MPH and increasing.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  C. Paul Pierett
October 10, 2018 9:35 pm

C. Paul Pierett ,
Disney’s First law is, “Wish and it will come true!’
Apparently it didn’t work, so you have nothing to support your statement that “AGW does cause stronger hurricanes.” Better luck next time.

Reply to  C. Paul Pierett
October 10, 2018 8:57 am


Reply to  ATheoK
October 10, 2018 9:10 am

Globall Warmining! Is there nothing it can’t do?!? (sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Another Paul
Reply to  2hotel9
October 10, 2018 9:19 am

“Is there nothing it can’t do?!?” lower taxes…

Reply to  Another Paul
October 10, 2018 9:25 am

Give it a chance, it has been rather busy destroying life as we know, has to prioritize. 😉

Van Doren
Reply to  C. Paul Pierett
October 10, 2018 10:29 am

It looks like NOAA is causing stronger hurricanes… on paper!

Reply to  C. Paul Pierett
October 10, 2018 3:38 pm

I wish I had a better comeback.

But only “idiot” comes to mind.

jay Hope
Reply to  C. Paul Pierett
October 11, 2018 4:19 am

C. Paul, I suggest you study the history of our climate before making such an ignorant statement. Earth needs large-scale storms in order to move heat around. Without them, the equator would be much hotter and dryer, and the poles would be much colder. The only problem with hurricanes is that humans have built homes in places where they strike and are therefore putting themselves in harm’s way. The number of deaths caused by these storms is down in the US, but the damage to property has risen. So please renounce your AGW religion, and learn some real climate science.

October 10, 2018 9:05 am

“6 were Category 4 (131-155 MPH), since 1886, no Category 5 (156 MPH or more) hurricanes have passed within 60 miles of the base.”

That is quite a cherry pick.
In a 132 year span, within a very narrow 120 length of sea shore, weather actors claim that this hurricane is “unprecedented”.
Ignorance dictates that they insist “Never before”, regarding historical hurricane strikes.

Michael’s eyewall will be on shore within the hour, 12:00 PM time EST. That puts almost half of the storm is already on land.

Watching the weather channel and seeing the same alleged weather people who faked winds and water heights during Florence, really reduces believing anything they state. It’s better to turn the sound off and watch the radar for the real information.

Gary Pearse
October 10, 2018 9:13 am

Their is a movement by alarmists to change the S-F scale to increase the number of categories of Hurricanes beyond “5”. Also Paul, what caused all those category 4s to hit there since the 19th century when we were still in the Little Ice Age?

David Hart
October 10, 2018 10:14 am

This is a neat website. I snowbird down in Port St. Joe so I found this to be captivating; Brett Adiar is live driving around down there:

October 10, 2018 1:15 pm

There it is!

Is climate change making hurricanes worse?
Hurricane season is here, and long-term trends paint a worrying picture
As Hurricane Michael approaches the Florida Panhandle after rapidly intensifying to a category 4 storm, coastal areas have been evacuated. The storm is the second to hit the US mainland this year after Hurricane Florence brought catastrophic rainfall and flash floods to the Carolinas.

October 10, 2018 3:14 pm

A soon as I read “unprecedented” or “it will be the most powerful storm on record to hit the region”, I tend to tune out as what follows is usually boilerplate Climate propaganda. This could be faulty, but has not been so far.

October 10, 2018 3:28 pm

What the hell?

Hurricane Camille had windspeeds of 175 mph. And “Labor Day” 1936 had windspeeds of 185 mph. So it was always published.

Now 155 mph is “unprecedented”? Sounds like history is being rewritten again?

October 10, 2018 6:48 pm

Yep, WTH.
Labor Day hurricane – Cat 5 – 185mph – Aug 29th to Sep 10, 1935.

Areas affected.
The Bahamas, Florida Keys, Southwest and North Florida (Big Bend), Georgia, The Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

October 11, 2018 12:32 am

This map has not changed in years. It is the map defining the regions for US Landfalling Hurricanes as part of a project run out of the University of Colorado, the US defined experts in hurricane statistics. Note that the region for Apalachicola did not have any intense hurricane landfalls 1900 through 1999. The project website is at: This stuff is real science, not biased by political objectives. The same guys that give us the yearly guess on the upcoming hurricane seasons.

The further east of Panama City you get, the harder it is to have a storm enter the Gulf, and make the turn to hit the area in Region 4. If you do the look using the Interactive display for Florida, Gulf County, you will see a 1% chance per year of an intense (Cat3 or above) hurricane hitting the county. Records only go back to about 1850 for populated areas that can estimate storm strength. A Cat 4 would be a lower probability, but still about .3% based on the available statistics before the current storm. It is OK to have stuff happen that represents a distribution. That’s how we get the distribution. Not everything is a conspiracy. It was the only Cat 4 in the region we have a record of, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible, only less probable.

October 11, 2018 12:43 am

I noticed all during the landfall that despite Drudge’s blaring headlines of 155MPH! et al, the Weather Underground sensors on the ground and in the path seldom registered sustained winds over 30MPH!!!!! Emphasis mine. ‘Sup widat?

October 11, 2018 1:23 pm

This is so sad. I hope everyone is safe and ready for the hurricane.

Ivan Kinsman
October 14, 2018 2:28 am

Mexico Beach – just take a look at the pictures to see how climate change is exacerbating the power of natural disasters. Anyone who denies this really is living in cloud cuckoo land, which seems to encompass most of the commentators on this site. Explain to the residents of this town the sceptics viewpoint and they will most likrly try to throttle you.

Reply to  Ivan Kinsman
October 15, 2018 8:27 am

Hate to have to bust your oh so special bubble, the majority of people living along the Redneck Riviera don’t believe humans are changing the climate. They understand weather does what it does, we can’t stop it and we are not causing. But hey! Don’t let that get in the way of your apocalyptical religious fantasy.

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