Last year’s devastating and destructive Hurricane Michael has officially been upgraded to a Category 5 storm.
Scientists at the National Hurricane Center announced Friday that post-storm analysis showed Michael actually had estimated sustained winds of 160 mph when it made landfall near Mexico Beach on Oct. 10. Wind speeds were originally estimated to be 155 mph, just 2 mph shy of reaching Category 5 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
“Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm,” NOAA scientists said in a news release. “Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States.”
Michael is the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It’s only the fourth Category 5 hurricane on record in the United States.
Hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Six months later, many survivors are still working to rebuild.