Hurricane Michael made his landfall on Wednesday as one of the strongest to ever strike the American mainland. The images of devastation in Panama City, Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach are striking, as much for the devastation as for how profoundly different the images are from recent major hurricanes that have afflicted the US mainland.
Florence, Harvey and even Katrina 13 years ago were all lessons in the powers of flood waters. Either the storm surge, as in Katrina, the heavy, incessant rain, like in Harvey, or the combination of both that was brought on by Florence. The destruction Michael has left behind is so jarring because it is a clear representative of the power of hurricane winds, unseen in the mainland since Andrew devastated south Florida in 1992, but reflective of Maria’s wrath in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands last year.
There was indeed a storm surge in Mexico Beach, reaching 8 feet by accounts I have heard, but the insidious nature of standing water isn’t going to be as problematic with this storm, because of how little was left behind to experience molding. Trees were sheared, power lines were kniocked down in a scene that looked more like a large scale tornado that stretched dozens of miles along the beaches.
In the end, Michael will go down in history as one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States. Like Andrew, it’s possible that he will one day be upgraded to a Category 5 in reanalysis. Also like Andrew, he will almost certainly provide a lot to think about in this part of Florida, affecting construction and safety practices for a generation.
Dakota Smith has a Twitter thread with a comprehensive look at the damage brought upon the region by Michael.
The thread came from here