Catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that industry insured losses resulting from Hurricane Michael’s winds and storm surge will range from $ 6 billion to USD 10 billion.
“Fueled by unseasonably high 84-degree sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and unhindered by any prior landfall, Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified shortly before making landfall at close to Category 5 intensity,” said Dr. Peter Sousounis, vice president and director of meteorology, AIR Worldwide.
“It struck near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 10, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). The minimum central pressure at landfall—a key measure of hurricane strength—was 919 mb, the third lowest on record for a U.S. hurricane. Michael is the most powerful hurricane to have come ashore in the Florida Panhandle since the first records were kept in 1851.”
At landfall hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center of the system and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 175 miles (280 km). It lost strength as it progressed across the Florida Panhandle and into southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia, weakening to a tropical storm.
Dr. Sousounis continued, “Most wind damage was confined to the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia, although some local wind-related damage such as downed trees and power lines occurred farther north along the track into the Carolinas. Since Michael was a fairly rapidly moving storm, precipitation accumulation was far less than for Florence, although some of the areas previously flooded by Florence were already saturated. Forecasts of around 4 to 8 inches of rain along the track through the southeastern U.S. were accurate, and these rains triggered some local flash flooding.”