Only weeks after Hurricane Florence caused catastrophic flooding and claimed 40 lives in the Carolinas, Florida is being battered by one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the mainland US.
What is Hurricane Michael’s current path?
The eye of the storm is forecast to move across central and eastern Georgia on Thursday morning (local time), and then over southern and central South Carolina later in the day. Michael will then move northeastward across the southeastern United States, before moving off the Mid-Atlantic coast by early Friday.
How dangerous is it?
When Michael made landfall on Wednesday, it was a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale with 155mph winds. It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida.
Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland, behind the unnamed Labour Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labour Day storm (184 mph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.
“We are in new territory,” National Hurricane Centre Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”
Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm early on Thursday over south-central Georgia with 60mph winds. It is expected to continue to weaken as it crosses the southeastern United States, but to re-intensify when it moves off the east coast of the United States.
How long is hurricane season?
The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from June to November and can affect US coastal regions and Hawaii. The FCO recommends staying in close contact with your airline, tour operator and accommodation provider if you’re planning travel during this period. The National Hurricane Center advises having a contingency plan.