Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Deadly Hurricane Michael Strongest Storm Ever to Hit Florida Panhandle

Popular
Deadly Hurricane Michael Strongest Storm Ever to Hit Florida Panhandle
Damage from Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon, leaving two dead and nearly 500,000 without power as it rammed through Florida, Georgia and Alabama, BBC News reported.

With winds of 155 miles per hour, it was the third strongest storm in recorded history to hit the U.S. and the strongest ever to hit the affected area, The Washington Post reported.


"We are catching some hell," Timothy Thomas, who stayed with his wife in his home in Panama City, Florida to ride out the storm, told the Associated Press, as BBC News reported.

The storm rapidly intensified from a tropical depression Sunday because of warmer than average waters in the Gulf of Mexico, an effect consistent with predictions about the impact of climate change on hurricanes. A 2013 study found that waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico had gotten warmer in the past century than would be expected given natural variability, The New York Times pointed out.

"There is a pretty strong consensus [among scientists] that the frequency of the high category events like Michael, in most parts of the world, should go up as a result of climate warming," Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric science professor Kerry A. Emanuel told CNN.

Michael first made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida at 2 p.m. local time and brought a storm surge of up to eight feet to the coastal city of Apalachicola, BBC News reported.

Winds blew the roofs off of houses in Mexico Beach and further devastated Panama City, where the eye moved next. Windows were blown out of buildings and others were destroyed entirely by wind or downed power lines and trees, CNN reported.

Most building codes aren't designed to withstand 155 mile-per-hour winds, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long told CNN.

"Unfortunately, this is a hurricane of the worst kind," Long said.

Both of the reported deaths were caused by falling trees. One man was killed by a tree in Gadsden County, Florida, and a child was killed in Seminole County, Georgia when a tree fell on a home, BBC News reported.

The storm weakened as it headed inland and was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday. As of Thursday morning it was over eastern Georgia and expected to move into central South Carolina, The Associated Press reported.

While the wind speed has been reduced to 50 miles per hour, winds, potential tornadoes and heavy rain still posed a threat, especially to parts of the Carolinas still recovering from the flooding of Hurricane Florence.

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

By Karen L. Smith-Janssen

Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A palm tree plantation in Malaysia. Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Getty Images Plus

Between 2000 and 2013, Earth lost an area of undisturbed ecosystems roughly the size of Mexico.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A home burns during the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills, California on September 18, 2020. Kyle Grillot / AFP/ Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."

Read More Show Less
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world. PickPik

A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.

Read More Show Less
The label of one of the recalled thyroid medications. FDA

If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch