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Major Hurricane Michael

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On 10/21/2018 at 5:57 PM, Amped said:

gjjrPa9.png   i5fAji3.png

 

Pressure wise, Micheal is the 3rd lowest

Wind wise and excluding Typhoon Karen and the other Guam storm, the list would read:

1.Labor Day

2.Camille

3.Andrew

4.Okeechobee

5.Micheal-Maria tied

Also the pressure tumbled from 933mb to 919mb in the 4 hrs before landfall.   A 933mb 145mph storm wouldn't have made the top 10, so that final push did a lot.

https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/atlantic/2018/tropical-storm-michael

 

 

 

Lol, now Yutu on the list, and if it hit on the same day as The Labor Day hurricane it wouldn't be, because it wasn't part of America yet.  Pacific Island storms deserve their own Category.

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Here's the RMS Hwind estimated 3-second wind gust map for Hurricane Michael; following their extensive ground surveys of the hardest hit areas in Florida and SW Georgia.  

As expected, their highest estimated winds were centered on Mexico Beach; at 170-180 mph!

I can certainly believe it based on what I observed, there, first-hand.  Not sure what the peak values really were, but I'm confident they were no less than 155 mph.  Likely, much higher.  With velocities of such extreme intensity, it was virtually impossible to see much of anything. 

The ear-piercing screams of the wind will be something I'll never be able to forget!  

Oct-2018-Peter-Datin-HU-Michael-Fig-1-720px.jpg

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15 hours ago, Roger Smith said:

Glad you survived. 

Thanks for the kind words, Roger!  I was most fortunate and am exceedingly grateful that the condo I sought for refuge didn’t suffer the same fate as so many others on the beach.  Like, for instance, the two houses that were lifted completely off their foundations and carried across hwy 98 to be slammed against the condo where I was filming the onslought.  Or the beach-front home that was lifted up by the surge and blown apart by the extreme winds, whose owner was found two days later hidden underneath the large mounds of wreckage in front of our condo.   

When those, like myself and other chasers, willingly put ourselves in the direct path of such violent storms, and survive the experience without personal injury, it’s easy to forget just how fortunate we truly were.  No matter how much experience we have or the various precautions we may take, it’s not a given that the structure we choose to endure the core of such ferocity will not collapse upon us.  Going through such an event is a stark reminder of how easily ones life can be snuffed out by a tempest of such magnitude!

Here’s the way I described the experience to a local news reporter less than 24 hours after the horrific calamity had befallen Mexico Beach (please keep in mind, had only slept 4.5 hours over the preceeding 3 days)

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2263377383885830&id=121026441243349

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A 19' storm surge verified in Mexico Beach, FL by USGS!  

Yet more incredible images and data being obtained, exemplifing the severity of hurricane Michael's impact along the NE Florida panhandle (especially, Mexico Beach)!

DqzqqrGUUAAV5ML.jpeg

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5 hours ago, ncforecaster89 said:

A 19' storm surge verified in Mexico Beach, FL by USGS!  

Yet more incredible images and data being obtained, exemplifing the severity of hurricane Michael's impact along the NE Florida panhandle (especially, Mexico Beach)!

DqzqqrGUUAAV5ML.jpeg

I saw this posted in a tweet this morning. It was accompanied by this:

NEW: USGS confirms a 19 foot storm surge in Mexico Beach from Hurricane Michael. This sets a new record for the state of Florida.

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14 hours ago, NavarreDon said:

I saw this posted in a tweet this morning. It was accompanied by this:

NEW: USGS confirms a 19 foot storm surge in Mexico Beach from Hurricane Michael. This sets a new record for the state of Florida.

Hard to imagine 155mph winds and 19ft of water at the same time. Like a lot of other storms, it could have been a lot worse if it were 30 miles west,   most of Panama City Beach would have been under water.

 

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Civil Air Patrol media flight photography:

The Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary component of the U.S. Air Force, has conducted over 100 air and ground missions in the Florida Handle beginning days before the hurricane made landfall on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. They have uploaded over 6,000 photos and surveyed Tyndall Air Force Base, Mexico Beach and other hard-hit Northwest Florida counties. [Herald-Tribune staff photo/Carlos R. Munoz]

https://www.heraldtribune.com/photogallery/LK/20181031/NEWS/103109978/PH/1

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This facebook pic caught me off guard! Life after a monster I guess. People set up at the end of their driveways in parts of PC so kids could trick or treat. Talked to family in St Joe Beach and there was none.
1a86593c049101b2660043068dc184ae.jpg


.

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Really good post on Reddit I felt is worth sharing here explaining why Michael may be upgraded to a Category 5 at landfall in post analysis by NHC/NCEP:
 

Quote
Points that support a higher intensity (>135kt)

1. Damage to trees was comparable to Andrew, with entire Pinus elliottii strands flattened, debarking observed in hardwoods and softwoods, and denuding.

2. As previously mentioned, the MSLP was likely about 918mb based on 920mb observed several miles from the center at Tyndall. Using the process outlined in Knaff and Zehr 2007 taking into account other factors, this works out to a low end category 5 hurricane.

3. Doppler radar velocities were consistently 155kt, with some readings exceeding 165kt. Accounting for beam height, the highest velocities translate to a low end category 5 hurricane.

4. The highest 10-second flight level wind was 152kt. Using the ratio between SFMR readings and FL winds that previously fit best for the storm (~92%), this translates 139.8kt, a category 5 hurricane. There was likely some undersampling, and this was not right at landfall, so winds could have been higher.

5. High water marks in areas impacted by the eastern half of the storm reached up to 21.16ft above NAVD88. The difference between MHHW (used for surge calculations) and NAVD88 is just over a foot in the region, meaning this should translate to 20 foot surge including waves. Not sure what the wave height was, but the gently sloping ocean floor in the region means they were likely not that high. I'm going to estimate surge was about 18 feet, which is 4 feet higher than the estimate for surge using the SLOSH model provided by the NHC. This could be a result of a larger windfield (did not occur), vastly different track (did not occur), or the most likely situation - the storm was more intense than the operation 135kt, possibly 140kt or higher.

6. SFMR peaked at 138kt unflagged, which is a category 5. This was discarded initially by the NHC because of the potential impacts of shoaling (waves breaking as coastline elevation ramps up dramatically). However, as previously stated, the coast in the area does not ramp up in the area where this was observed. This makes this reading more reliable than it may seem, so I'm taking it into account. There also may have been undersampling and further strengthening, so it may have reached a higher intensity.

7. Damage to manmade structures from wind was extensive. From downtown Panama City to the area between Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe, there was intense damage ranging from very widespread EF0-1 level, most areas with EF2 damage, and localized areas of EF3 level damage. Examples of severe wind damage observed include a collapsed water tower, collapsed metal truss/transmission towers, nearly all wooden homes with collapsed sidings and roofs torn off, and industrial buildings made of brick or concrete with destroyed walls. For a hurricane's straight line winds to produce this level of damage it takes an intense storm - certainly cat 5, with the possibility of mesovorticies having a role. The best hurricane analog to this damage is Andrew.

8. At Tyndall peak gusts were said to be 172mph. This was not observed by the WeatherFlow observing site in the area, which collapsed after a cat-4 gust in the leading eyewall. I'm not exactly sure of the method used to measure the 172mph gust, perhaps pitot tubes on aircraft, perhaps observational estimates, or perhaps they had another anemometer with data not publicly available. But what I do know is that, if the gust can be verified, it would probably support a higher intensity - Tyndall is far enough inland for land friction to start playing a role in reducing observed winds, and the area did not get the strongest portion of the eyewall. However, if survey teams find that damage was more associated with mesovorticies, than this gust will probably have less weight as mesovorticies can enhance gusts without ramping up sustained winds. But since mesovorticital damage has not been confirmed yet, I'm going to say this supports a category 5 intensity.

9. For what it's worth, Dvorak satellite intensity estimates were at or above T7.0 (category 5) for the time leading up to and of landfall. Now this shouldn't really be that significant since there are direct measurements from recon that are much more solid evidence for an upgrade, but it's still meaningful to note that the satellite appearance supported a higher intensity.

TLDR: Tree damage, pressure ratio, doppler velocities, flight level winds, surge levels, SFMR measurements, structural damage, peak measured gusts, and satellite presentation all support a higher intensity of low-end category 5 in Hurricane Michael.


Discussion Link

I agree there is an excellent chance of upgrade.

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That was an excellent listing of data, outlined above, arguing for an upgrade to category-five intensity.

There was also alot of debate and discussion about this topic on Twitter...for which I participated...and included former NHC forecaster Todd Kimberlain.  As shown in the link below, It was mainly a debate where chasers Simon Brewer and Justin Drake were arguing for the upgrade while Todd suggested that the NHC will be very reluctant to modifying their operational landfall intensity; baring any other significant data becoming available. 

https://mobile.twitter.com/tbrite89/status/1052748706670399490

Considering that some subjectivity will be involved in the final landfall intensity estimate produced by the NHC (in the TCR), it's essentially a 50/50 proposition as to whether hurricane Michael will be upgraded to a category-five.

All things being equal, the 152 kt flight-level-wind (FLW) measured in the SE quadrant of the eyewall is the strongest data point in support of category-five classification.  The standard 90% ratio of FLW to surface wind estimate (for an intensifying hurricane) equates to 137 kts.  Even though it's rounded to the nearest 5 kt interval (135 kt), one must take into account that it's highly unlikely Recon was able to measure the absolute peak wind velocity contained anywhere else within the eyewall.  This alone argues for an intensity of no less than 140 kts.  It is also the most objective data available; the 138 kt SFMR reading, notwithstanding.       

Given that the central pressure dropped at least another 3 mb after the aforementioned FLW was obtained, one could even make a plausible argument for 145 kt...but 140 kts. would be my choice.

All the rest of the data and factors, listed in the Reddit post, provides further substantiation of the in-situ data measured by Recon just prior to landfall.      

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That twitter thread is a bit disheartening.  There's no reason why the operational intensity should be given the benefit of the doubt (i.e. that there should be a higher burden to 'overturn' the original analysis).  Reanalysis should be clean slate.

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On 11/6/2018 at 7:12 PM, Windspeed said:

Really good post on Reddit I felt is worth sharing here explaining why Michael may be upgraded to a Category 5 at landfall in post analysis by NHC/NCEP:
 

6. SFMR peaked at 138kt unflagged, which is a category 5. This was discarded initially by the NHC because of the potential impacts of shoaling (waves breaking as coastline elevation ramps up dramatically). However, as previously stated, the coast in the area does not ramp up in the area where this was observed. This makes this reading more reliable than it may seem, so I'm taking it into account. There also may have been undersampling and further strengthening, so it may have reached a higher intensity.
Discussion Link

I agree there is an excellent chance of upgrade.

 

SFMR is the best chance of getting an upgrade.  All the others assumptions are approximations which would neither support nor reject it being a CAT 5 and the ruling on the field would stand in the NFL.

 

Even if Micheal is upgraded, it will probably keeps it's rank, just below Andrew and Okeechobee.

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I agree that though Michael may be upgraded, it will likely be strict reanalysis of that SFMR data and the realization that shoaling should not have discredited it. 140kts/160 mph seems logical; and yes, it would still rank behind Andrew and Okeechobee. Rank is not as important versus just getting as close as possible to correct landfall intensity from a scientific standpoint however. We may still have unreleased data from TAB/military as well that may find its way into post analysis. As has been stated previously, their gust data is very high if shown accurate, based on its inland location and all things considered. Some have also suggested that they may have had closed network instrumentation/obs we have not yet been privy to online that could find its way into reanalysis. The report will be an interesting one for sure.

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20 hours ago, Amped said:

 

SFMR is the best chance of getting an upgrade.  All the others assumptions are approximations which would neither support nor reject it being a CAT 5 and the ruling on the field would stand in the NFL.

 

Even if Micheal is upgraded, it will probably keeps it's rank, just below Andrew and Okeechobee.

I agree that technically the SFMR is the only data that specifically correlates to category-five intensity.  That said, I worry the NHC will continue to fall back on their operational decision to discount it due to the “assumption” that shoaling inflated that figure...as Todd Kimberlain suggested is most probable. 

Baring any other data not yet publicly released, the 152 kt FLW is the next best piece of emperical data supporting a 140 kt cat 5 reclassification.  Although, it does round down to 135 kt when converting to a 1-min surface wind estimate without taking into account the exceedingly high likelihood that there were slightly higher winds Recon didn’t measure, and/or the fact Michael was still offshore and intensifying when it was taken.  

It’s also conceivable that IF the much higher storm surge estimates (provided by the USGS post-storm surveys) are determined to be legit, the NHC might perform another hind-cast SLOSH model run containing the adjusted surge data to estimate Michael’s MSW, as they’ve often done in the reanalysis of past hurricanes.  Albeit, it would carry much less weight in any present day reanalysis considering all the in-situ data they do have for Michael, obviously.  Since it’s likely they’ll determine the central pressure continued to drop below their operational 919 mb estimate, that too further argues for the upgrade.  

In short, and to your point, if the NHC continues to discount the validity of the 138 kt SFMR measurement, a little well-reasoned subjectivity will be required in order for the current operational assessment to be modified.  Of course, and as the Reddit poster so well articulated, I’d argue that the entirety of all the data makes low-end category five the most reasonable intensity estimate.   

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Estimated 15'-18.5' peak surge and 152 mph gusts.

https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Hurricane-Michael-Brought-Water-Levels-Over-20-High-Coast

we get an estimate of 15' – 18.5’ for the peak storm surge from Hurricane Michael. NOAA has not yet announced their official numbers for Michael’s storm surge, however.

For the record, a proprietary radar wind program from a private company showed 152 mph 3-second gusts in Mexico Beach. That is top end EF3 damage, and it's pretty consistent with the damage I saw.”

 

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R3bn1xh.jpg

Here's where Micheal ranks in intensification in the 24hrs before landfall, somewhere between Harvey and Charley.

 

Edit: Think the person who did the graphic messed up up. Harvey should be around 40kts.  Maria weakened a bit before hitting PR. Irma was constant

 

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I was in Southwest Georgia when the hurricane hit and it was technically at Category 3 strength (115-125 based on NHC advisory). We had wind gusts probably between 110 and 120 mph which is what I'd expect with a Category 3. You have to realize that the numbers that NHC produces are sustained winds over WATER, where there is no friction. When a storm moves over land, wind is having friction which slows it down. So a 110 mph wind gust over land is going to be similar to what you would expect with a sustained wind over water. I think someone mentioned that in here already. The tree damage was staggering especially to the taller evergreen greens. One of my aunts lives down there and from my experience a lot of the damage over Southwest Georgia back into Marianna was tree damage, gas stations destroyed, and some structural damage....but no where near the level of what it was at Mexico Beach/Callaway/Tyndall AFB. I still think it was at the level of a Category 3 though when it crossed into Georgia. Still working on my video from this event....

As far as the Category 5 debate at landfall. I can't make comment on that because I wasn't at the shoreline, I think a lot of the damage done in Mexico Beach and areas near the shore was due to the major storm surge, so its going to be hard to differentiate that from the wind damage. Further inland though, I think its easier to come up with an analysis of exactly what happened and how strong it was. Just my take though. I've been through a few hurricanes and even after this, I think Irma was probably my "favorite" or "top". I use "favorite" lightly because these events affect a lot of people and case serious damage, so its hard to glorify them.

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Heading back over to St Joe Beach tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Hwy 98 is finally open the whole way so I will update on what I see.

Sorry it has taken me so long to update this!

Here is a brief version of the day: Things are grinding in recovery as you can imagine due to the scope of damage. While new power lines are up the old ones still litter the ground along Hwy 98. The damage as we went past our previous travels on 98 is almost indescribable! As we got deeper into Callaway & then into Parker the devastation really began to Ramp up. Parker in particular has some of the most wind damage I've ever seen. Tyndall is a mess, there are hundreds of campers set up there. Not sure if they are for military personnel or recovery efforts. The 10 mile buffer zone of pines between Tyndall & Mexico Beach is roughly 85% gone. The smaller thinner pines that were able to sway are the only ones that made it. Every mature tree is snapped. At about 2 miles from Mexico Beach the damage to the trees caught my eyes. Their is significant debarking of whats left of the trees in this area. Mexico Beach is well.....pretty much wiped out as most of you know so I won't go into detail on it. The damage from mesovortices along the drive is easily apparent and should make for some awesome case studies. Here are some of the many pics my wife snapped as i drove. I will do another post below with some more. Finally I'm no expert but a good educated guess is the recovery period from Michael will land in the 3-5 year time frame.

 

 

b8ca807e72b6bd80a60bc2707b8eb7f4.jpg6f37841fcd1d70119b446c3b5630b004.jpgcc0fc78cc8614251704ece5d9f4a5517.jpgf8a4f8b1d8cf4955cb5a099dfd6478f6.jpgeb443f4a86eee7aa1bb147113e553f5d.jpg6c594e90813af684a8daa41fdbb4c315.jpg6afcdc3cbd8c98a0c1a4940e39931d0e.jpg

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Looks like the California fires have caused almost as much damage as Micheal now and a higher death toll. 

Kind of a random comparison. But I was thinking, a hurricane is the oceans more complex version of a wildfire. It just extracts energy from the water instead of the vegetation.

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Was just up late (not too usual) when it occurred to me that it might be beneficial to review the last Recon VDM for both Maria (2017) and Michael (2018), prior to their respective landfalls in Puerto Rico and the Florida Panhandle.  Especially, given they were each designated as 135 kt high-end category-four hurricanes when they came ashore, operationally.   

Hurricane Maria (9/20/2017):

000
URNT12 KNHC 200831
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE   AL152017
A. 20/08:04:10Z
B. 17 deg 51 min N
  065 deg 28 min W
C. 700 mb 2365 m
D. 116 kt
E. 212 deg 11 nm
F. 330 deg 108 kt
G. 221 deg 14 nm
H. 917 mb
I. 10 C / 3055 m
J. 18 C / 3041 m
K. NA / NA
L. CLOSED
M. CO10-28
N. 12345 / 7
O. 0.02 / 1 nm
P. AF302 0715A MARIA              OB 27
MAX OUTBOUND AND MAX FL WIND 146 KT 032 / 16 NM 08:11:00Z
CNTR DROPSONDE SFC WIND 165 / 5 KT
;

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/recon/2017/REPNT2/

Hurricane Michael (10/10/2018):

000
URNT12 KNHC 101752
VORTEX DATA MESSAGE   AL142018
A. 10/17:09:50Z
B. 29.97 deg N 085.64 deg W
C. 700 mb 2402 m
D. EXTRAP 922 mb
E. NA
F. CLOSED
G. C18
H. 138 kt
I. 186 deg 12 nm 17:06:00Z
J. 287 deg 129 kt
K. 187 deg 9 nm 17:07:00Z
L. 133 kt
M. 117 deg 15 nm 17:23:30Z
N. 224 deg 152 kt
O. 117 deg 12 nm 17:22:30Z
P. 14 C / 2962 m
Q. 19 C / 3048 m
R. 10 C / NA
S. 12345 / 7
T. 0.02 / 1 nm
U. AF301 1514A MICHAEL OB 22
MAX FL WIND 152 KT 117 / 12 NM 17:22:30Z
SLP EXTRAP FROM 700 MB

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/recon/2018/REPNT2/

The Comparison:

1) Hurricane Maria made landfall at 1015z; two hours after the last Recon obs, above.  It had begun an eyewall replacement cycle shortly after the 0310z VDM provided by Recon, seven hours earlier, when the eye measured 10 nm and contained a minimum central pressure of 910 mb.  During that interval, the eye had expanded to 28 nm and the pressure rose to 917 mb.  The pressure is presumed (by the NHC) to have continued to fill to an estimated 920 mb by the time it crossed the Puerto Rican shoreline.  

The highest flight-level wind (FLW) of 157 kt was observed at 2221z on the 19th (roughly 12 hours preceding landfall).  By the time of the last pre-landfall mission, max FLWs were down to 146 kt.  Since Maria was continuing to weaken during the subsequent two hours, it’s highly likely max winds had decreased, as well.  

2) Hurricane Michael made landfall at 1730z; less than thirty minutes after the last Recon obs, above.  In contrast to Maria, hurricane Michael was rapidly intensifying all the way up to and through landfall.  At 0904z, only 8.5 hours prior to blasting ashore, the eye measured 20 nm with a minimum central pressure of 937 mb.  By the time of the aforementioned last VDM, the eye had contracted to less than 18 nm and the pressure had fallen to 919 mb.  As can be seen by examining the radar imagery, the eye had shrunken even further, and it’s presumed that the central pressure deepened a little more, as well, during the period between the last VDM and the center crossing the coastline.

The highest FLW of 152 kt was measured just prior to the center pushing onshore.  At 0900z, 8.5 hours earlier, the maximum FLWs were measured at 130 kt.  As noted above, Michael was still undergoing a period of rapid intensification, and it’s most probable that there were even stronger winds that Recon didn’t sample.  

NHC Post Storm Report (TCR):

The NHC chose to retain their operational landfalling intensity estimate of 135 kt for hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  In it, the authors stated that they based their conclusions on the extrapolation of the weakening trend noted by Recon, following the ERC.  

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/AL152017_Maria.pdf

If the NHC felt justified in retaining the 135 kt operational intensity estimate for Maria, based primarily on the Recon data, it provides even greater emphasis that hurricane Michael had achieved 140 kt category-five strength at landfall.

Comparatively, Michael had higher observed flight-level winds and a lower barometric pressure.  Maria was weakening significantly, while Michael was rapidly intensifying.  

I won’t go through and reiterate all the other data points that strongly support Michael’s upgrade, but simply wanted to provide this quick examination of the Recon data between the two storms.   

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On 10/26/2018 at 1:23 PM, Windspeed said:

WOW! This video was recorded in the western eyewall.

Hey, thanks! Glad you liked it! MICHAEL was one of the more memorable 'canes I've chased, and I was thrilled to get in the eye to collect data! (I measured 923.2 mb in the eye.)

Re: the landfall intensity, which I see is the subject of fierce debate: I can see arguments both ways. Me: I'm comfortable with the operational assessment of 135 knots. This is an unscientific opinion based on 1) how it "felt" on the ground compared to the other Cat 5s and high-end Cat 4s I've been in; and 2) the wind damage from Panama City to Mexico Beach (I stayed for several days after the cyclone to check it all out). I should point out that 135 knots puts it at No. 4 on the list of several-hundred hurricanes that have hit the mainland USA since 1851-- so it's not like calling MICHAEL a high-end Cat 4 sells it short.

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On 10/11/2018 at 10:26 PM, NavarreDon said:
 
 
Q445ymsc_bigger.jpg Josh MorgermanVerified account @iCyclone

I was in the inner cores of #Hurricane #MICHAEL in Florida and #MARIA in Puerto Rico—both 135-knot storms. Folks are asking me to compare them. MARIA seemed larger & lasted longer. MICHAEL seemed smaller—the whole thing came & went in just a few hoursbut felt more violent.

 

21 hours ago, HurricaneJosh said:

Hey, thanks! Glad you liked it! MICHAEL was one of the more memorable 'canes I've chased, and I was thrilled to get in the eye to collect data! (I measured 923.2 mb in the eye.)

Re: the landfall intensity, which I see is the subject of fierce debate: I can see arguments both ways. Me: I'm comfortable with the operational assessment of 135 knots. This is an unscientific opinion based on 1) how it "felt" on the ground compared to the other Cat 5s and high-end Cat 4s I've been in; and 2) the wind damage from Panama City to Mexico Beach (I stayed for several days after the cyclone to check it all out). I should point out that 135 knots puts it at No. 4 on the list of several-hundred hurricanes that have hit the mainland USA since 1851-- so it's not like calling MICHAEL a high-end Cat 4 sells it short.

Hi Josh!  First and foremost, let me commend you on yet another fantastic and highly successful chase.  Very rare, to say the least, to be in the eye of arguably a Cat 5 hurricane and measure a pressure as low as 923 mb!

While I genuinely respect your opinion regarding the ongoing debate pertaining to Michael’s landfalling intensity estimate, I can only speak for myself and express that it matters a great deal to me from a wholly scientific perspective.  As has been discussed rather extensively on the current page of this thread, the totality of the available data strongly suggests Michael was no less than a 140 kt Cat 5 hurricane when it crossed the coastline; which is precisely the reasoning the NHC should upgrade it in the forthcoming TCR (not that I necessarily think they will).  

In comarison with the 135 kt hurricane Maria, you even stated previously that “it felt more violent” in the eyewall of Michael.  I trust/respect that observation immediately following your own personal encounter with hurricane Michael.  The comparative Recon data, between the two storms, also supports that conclusion.    

Just for the record, I personally don’t agree with some who are encouraging a Cat 5 designation based on emotion and/or for any presumed political purposes.  Nothing short of a very thorough, objective, and purely scientific examination of the available data should be the ultimate basis of the NHC’s final landfall intensity estimate.  

To reiterate, the totality of the available data (Recon, SFMR (?), satellite estimates, wind-pressure relationships, incredible tree damage, and Doppler radar velocity estimates)  strongly argues in favor of a 140 kt Cat 5 reclassification.  For that reason, I feel that maintenance of the operational 135 kt intensity would, in fact, sell Michael short of its rightful place as a legitimate category-five hurricane.          

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On 1/17/2019 at 11:53 AM, ncforecaster89 said:

 

Hi Josh!  First and foremost, let me commend you on yet another fantastic and highly successful chase.  Very rare, to say the least, to be in the eye of arguably a Cat 5 hurricane and measure a pressure as low as 923 mb!

While I genuinely respect your opinion regarding the ongoing debate pertaining to Michael’s landfalling intensity estimate, I can only speak for myself and express that it matters a great deal to me from a wholly scientific perspective.  As has been discussed rather extensively on the current page of this thread, the totality of the available data strongly suggests Michael was no less than a 140 kt Cat 5 hurricane when it crossed the coastline; which is precisely the reasoning the NHC should upgrade it in the forthcoming TCR (not that I necessarily think they will).  

In comarison with the 135 kt hurricane Maria, you even stated previously that “it felt more violent” in the eyewall of Michael.  I trust/respect that observation immediately following your own personal encounter with hurricane Michael.  The comparative Recon data, between the two storms, also supports that conclusion.    

Just for the record, I personally don’t agree with some who are encouraging a Cat 5 designation based on emotion and/or for any presumed political purposes.  Nothing short of a very thorough, objective, and purely scientific examination of the available data should be the ultimate basis of the NHC’s final landfall intensity estimate.  

To reiterate, the totality of the available data (Recon, SFMR (?), satellite estimates, wind-pressure relationships, incredible tree damage, and Doppler radar velocity estimates)  strongly argues in favor of a 140 kt Cat 5 reclassification.  For that reason, I feel that maintenance of the operational 135 kt intensity would, in fact, sell Michael short of its rightful place as a legitimate category-five hurricane.          

Thanks, Tony, for your kind words-- and congrats to you, too, for an epic chase. It sounds like it was totally harrowing!

MICHAEL did "feel" a little more violent than MARIA, but that might have been an illusion, because that part of Florida (where I rode out MICHAEL) had mostly wood-frame buildings, whereas that part of Puerto Rico (where I rode out MARIA) had mostly solid-concrete buildings-- so in MICHAEL I saw a lot more stuff flying. MICHAEL wasn't a small hurricane, but it wasn't large, and it moved pretty briskly, so it felt like the whole thing came and went in a big, mighty burst, whereas MARIA was very large and lasted long-- it was like a marathon.

One thing that makes me tend more toward high-end Cat 4 with MICHAEL is the tree damage. Deciduous trees and pines looked horrible, but the palm trees-- including in Mexico Beach-- didn't look quite as beat up as I've seen after other Cat 5s/high-end 4s. It seemed the palms that went through the eyewall (on either side) mostly kept their fronds-- whereas in the wake of cyclones like HAIYAN I've witnessed massive, wholesale trunk snap-offs and de-crownings. MICHAEL just wasn't up to that level, from what I saw. (Surge damage to the right of the landfall point was spectacular-- you witnessed it yourself in real-time-- but of course that's a separate topic.)

Again, I'm not downplaying it-- MICHAEL will go down as one of the great cyclones I've witnessed, one I'll keep talking about and writing about for many years to come. But when I'm comparing it to the other legends, it doesn't quite top the list.

Curious to see what the NHC decides! :)

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