Michael: most violent US hurricane since 1969
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 ."