What happened with Hurricane Michael?

I’ve stopped paying attention to hysterical headlines because… all headlines are now hysterical. Hurricanes do seem to live up to the hype, at least sometimes. What happened with Hurricane Michael? How severe an event did it turn out to be in terms of loss of lives and destruction of property?

What about Disney’s bet that Orlando wouldn’t get hit by a hurricane? Does that need to be reevaluated in light of Hurricane Michael (the strongest in more than 100 years for that section of Florida, right?).

And how is Seaside, Florida doing? (The Truman Show location.) It was planned only in 1985. It is officially 13′ above sea level. They embarked on a big dunes restoration project in January 2018 (story).

[Separately, why do journalists always use the same stock phrases for hurricanes? A hurricane moving at 10 or 15 miles per hour is “barreling toward” a destination. A hurricane does not “contain” winds of 85 knots; it “packs” winds of 85 knots. If hurricanes are becoming more frequent and severe, do we need some new vocabulary to describe them?]

A bad METAR..

KPAM 101719Z AUTO 07075G112KT M1/8SM R14/0600V1000FT +RA FG SQ M 25/25 A2729 RMK AO2 RAB1658 SLP244 CHINO RWY32

(At the Panama City Tyndall Air Force Base, October 10 at 1:19 pm. Wind from the NE at 75 knots, gusting 112 knots. Less than 1/8th of a mile visibility. Between 600 and 1000′ of visibility on Runway 14. Heavy rain, fog, squall (SQ). I don’t know what the “M” after the “SQ” means. Temperature and dewpoint are both 25C. The altimeter setting is a low 27.29. The rain began at 12:58 pm.)

15 thoughts on “What happened with Hurricane Michael?

  1. Especially given that the only walls of the hurricane are on the inside. Where is the outside? (I assume that the outside edge is defined by the wind speed reaching hurricane strengths)

  2. In your younger days you would have flown down there and personally evaluated the situation so you could debunk the news or add missed, important details.

  3. See mikekillianphotography on instagram for some “on the ground” reporting. Looks very serious. He normally does some very good airplane photography.

  4. I am curious what the M means too. Maybe a reader could post if they know. My google machine didn’t seem to know.

  5. We are local in Lynn Haven, on the north arm of St Andrew Bay. West to East: Destin-Seaside-PC Beach- Panama City/Lynn Haven/Callaway-Tyndall AFB-Mexico Bch-Port St Joe-Apalachicola.

    The eye was several miles wide, centered on Tyndall AFB. West of eye Northerly winds 100+ , East of eye southerly winds 100+. Mexico Bch in the eastern eyewall pretty much destroyed, surge scoured the on-slab construction, Newer construction did a little better but heavy wind damage.

    No word from Tyndall AFB yet, all aircraft flown out. it is an F22 and fullscale target drone (QF16,QF4) base, also 1st AF NORAD nationwide air defense radar center. The center of the eye passed just east of the base complex, over the main runway and drone runway.

    Panama City/Lynn Haven lost 90% of trees, lots of structural damage, all power out indefinitely. The area has not seen a Cat 4 since the 1920’s, lots of untested trees. The FL peninsula screens it from Atlantic storms so it is only vulnerable to Caribbean and Gulf originations – has been lucky for almost 100 yrs.

    We evac’d to Atlanta because of 12-15 trees near house, now all trees down, 4 trees on house. We have 2 poor cellphone photos from a neighbor, don’t know how much structural or interior water damage. Going down Friday to see if we can mitigate or just turn it over to insurance contractors.

    Weather Channel coverage was poor, they were out of the worst, east and west, so they didn’t catch all the structural and tree damage. The scene is much like Hurricane Andrew in Miami in the 90’s, like a huge tornado. Standing trees except palms have no foliage and few limbs.

    We’ll know more Friday.

    philg, Seaside was west of the high damage area, but got their hair mussed.

  6. john: https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/ seems to agree with you. “In short, the historical Atlantic hurricane record does not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced long-term increase.” Also “it is uncertain how the annual number of Atlantic tropical storms will change over the 21st century”

    “We find that, after adjusting for such an estimated number of missing storms, there remains just a small nominally positive upward trend in tropical storm occurrence from 1878-2006. Statistical tests indicate that this trend is not significantly distinguishable from zero (Figure 2). In addition, Landsea et al. (2010) note that the rising trend in Atlantic tropical storm counts is almost entirely due to increases in short-duration (<2 day) storms alone. Such short-lived storms were particularly likely to have been overlooked in the earlier parts of the record, as they would have had less opportunity for chance encounters with ship traffic." and "The evidence for an upward trend is even weaker if we look at U.S. landfalling hurricanes, which even show a slight negative trend beginning from 1900 or from the late 1800s"

    I hope we can agree that there is at least an upward trend in media hysteria!

  7. (Actually the impact of hurricanes on the U.S. has been hugely increased by air conditioning. Before A/C, most parts of the U.S. that are vulnerable to hurricanes were sparsely populated. A/C plus having 4X as many people compared to 1900 means that a hurricane will affect a lot more Americans.)

  8. It strikes me that the needs of aviation spurred the detailed weather observation infrastructure we have today.

    Where would meteorology be if it did not have to serve the exacting requirements of the aviator?

  9. Tyndall AFB took a direct hit, and experienced extensive damage: https://www.stripes.com/tyndall-afb-leveled-by-hurricane-michael-as-most-other-installations-avoid-major-damage-1.551072

    ” The flight line is devastated, the message said. “Every building has severe damage. Many buildings are a complete loss.”

    Other areas that sustained “severe” or “catastrophic” damage include Tyndall Elementary School; the BX and commissary; the two shoppettes; the drone runway; and the Tyndall marina, which was “completely destroyed,” missing all structures and docks.

    “Trees and power lines block every road,” the message said. “At this time, power and basic utilities remain out.”

    As of Thursday, no injuries were reported on the base, which was under a mandatory evacuation order since Tuesday. All of the operational aircraft assigned to Tyndall were evacuated ahead of the storm to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Carswell Field in Texas and Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.”

  10. And why are “infernos” always “raging”?

    A lot of sports, weather, and stock market stories are written by computers these days, which might account for the repetitive vocabulary.

    I operate a website that presents numerical data from a database, and for the visitors, and for Google’s indexing software, we spew out a summary in natural English. A lot of it is just writing a lot of short sentences, and then doing some regex passes to combine the short sentences into longer sentences, or into series.

    This is fun stuff, if you have a knack for it. A lot of programmers who don’t have CS degrees have linguistics degrees. You can spot them because they never do code that spits out stuff like “1 results” or “1 result(s)”.

  11. I figured it out…. well not really called a retired weather guy from the FAA. The “M” denotes a missing element of the METAR report. Now we can all breath a sigh of relief.

  12. Thanks, Toucan Sam! I guess it means that the ceiling is missing. Maybe the winds destroyed the instrument that estimates the ceiling? Obvious in retrospect!

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