Michael: most vi­o­lent US hur­ri­cane since 1969

Observer on Saturday - - News -

NEW YORK - Hur­ri­cane Michael, which tore into Florida on Wed­nes­day, went in just two days from trop­i­cal storm sta­tus to a Cat­e­gory four hur­ri­cane, on a scale with a max­i­mum of five.

Here are some fig­ures which il­lus­trate the power of Michael on the con­ti­nen­tal United States and which ‘took fore­cast­ers by sur­prise’, ac­cord­ing to Phil Klotzbach, a re­search sci­en­tist in the De­part­ment of At­mo­spheric Sci­ence at Colorado State Univer­sity.

"This came out of nowhere, de­vel­oped on a week­end so it didn't re­ally get much at­ten­tion at all un­til ba­si­cally Wed­nes­day," he said. Michael hit Florida with wind speeds of 250km/h, plac­ing it al­most into Cat­e­gory five scale, which starts at 252km/h. Never in recorded weather his­tory has a hur­ri­cane hit the main­land United States at such a speed in Oc­to­ber, the month mark­ing the end of the June to Novem­ber hur­ri­cane sea­son. Look­ing at the en­tire hur­ri­cane sea­son, Michael had the strongest winds since 1992 and Hur­ri­cane An­drew. Only two other storms in recorded Amer­i­can weather his­tory – that is, since 1851 – had stronger winds. They were in 1969 and 1935.

Me­te­o­rol­o­gists use an­other mea­sure to eval­u­ate hur­ri­cane in­ten­sity: Cen­tral pres­sure.

This is pre­ferred by Klotzbach, who ex­plains that it is more pre­cise for his­tor­i­cal com­par­isons be­cause it is mea­sured pre­cisely by an air­plane fly­ing in the mid­dle of the storm' s eye, whereas" wind is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent ev­ery­where along the hur­ri­cane ."

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