BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - What locals have been saying for months turns out to be true. Scientists at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center have upgraded Hurricane Michael to a Category 5.
Scientists say after analyzing all data on Hurricane Michael, they determined the storm made landfall with wind speeds of 160 miles per hour when the eye made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base. They say this is five miles more than the operational estimate and makes Hurricane Michael a Category 5.
Scientists say Hurricane Michael is the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record to make landfall as a Category 5 in the United States. Other Category 5 storms include the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.
They go on to say the Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast. They say the change in estimated wind speeds is “of little practical significance” when talking about impacts from the storm.