Home Science Climate Change Art of Fact: Hurricane Michael Upgraded to Category 5 Storm

Art of Fact: Hurricane Michael Upgraded to Category 5 Storm


As we enter into the 2019 storm season, NOAA has announced the upgrade of Hurricane Michael to a category 5 storm after further analysis of all of the data available, some not present at the time of landfall.

We traveled to Panama City, FL, after the storm passed to access the damage and launch Project: Art of Fact, during Miami Art Week, as part of a campaign to raise awareness on the devastation that occurred in the panhandle. Project: Art of Fact featured giant Live Oak slabs that were milled in Georgia, from the remains of a blown down 100+ year old tree recovered from the Cove in Panama City. The process to recover this wood and the story behind the disaster that created the opportunity to recover this otherwise wasted resource, is all about putting a spot light on Climate Change, and the new normal of super storms.

Michael is also the strongest hurricane landfall on record in the Florida Panhandle and only the second known category 5 landfall on the northern Gulf coast.


Now that Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm, we can look back at this natural disaster, the recovery efforts, and the reconstruction process as a significant event, 1 of 4 in the recorded history of the United States storm record.

Here’s what you need to know about Hurricane Michael’s Category 5 Upgrade:

  • Post-storm analysis estimates sustained winds of 160 mph.
  • Scientists at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center conducted a detailed post-storm analysis on all the data available for Hurricane Michael and have determined that the storm’s estimated intensity at landfall was 140 knots (160 mph).
  • This final wind intensity is a 5 knot (5 mph) increase over the operational estimate and makes Michael a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale at the time of landfall on October 10, 2018, near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Michael is the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record.
  • The others are the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.
  • Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm.
  • Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States.
  • Along with wind speed, atmospheric pressure is a measure of storm intensity.
  • In general, the lower a storm’s central pressure, the higher the winds.
  • Michael’s central pressure of 919 millibars (mb) at landfall is the third lowest on record for a landfalling U. S. hurricane since reliable records began in 1900, trailing only the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 (892 mb) and Hurricane Camille of 1969 (900 mb).



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