DISCUSSION: We may already be well into 2019 already, however, it is always important to look back on history to be able to better prepare for weather disasters which will occur in the future. In the case of Hurricane Michael which in early to mid-October of 2018, this is such a situation which deserves such an amount of due respect and appreciation for what unfolded. Even though Hurricane Michael was slow to get going as the system developed from a group of relatively disorganized thunderstorms just to the east and northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula in eastern Mexico, the future track and intensity of the storm is arguably what took most Florida and Georgia residents by surprise the most. In the case of Hurricane Michael, this tropical cyclone ended up being such a surprising tropical cyclone since it rapidly intensified much faster than was ever anticipated during most of its history making it a very bad surprise for those who were living and/or vacationing across parts of northwest Florida. Up to this point, it is believed that the storm reached a maximum intensity with 155 mph maximum sustained winds right at landfall which made it a very powerful Category 4 hurricane and with it being 1 mph short of a Category 5 storm.
In digging a little deeper into the impacts of the period both leading up to, during, and after the system’s landfall, it became evident that this storm was incredibly powerful upon seeing images and imagery of different areas which were in the path of this storm before and after it hit. For example, in the imagery attached above within the embedded Tweet (courtesy of Dr. Rick Knabb), you can see how a portion of the landmass of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park which is located just offshore from Port St. Joe, Florida no longer exists after the passage of the storm. It goes without saying that water power (and specifically storm surge from a Category 4 hurricane) is the most powerful natural force on Earth. However, it is worth noting that the power needed to destroy a portion of a coastal inlet and a corresponding beach zone such as this is immense. Thus, it just goes to show that even a relatively compact storm such as Hurricane Michael is more than capable of packing a prolific and a horrific punch on a region which can last for months and years well after the storm has come and gone.
The moral of the story here is to ALWAYS respect the natural power of a tropical cyclone and to never underestimate how intense or powerful a storm may be at landfall since that will nearly always be a factor one would never want to be faced with.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz