I started my career in Tampa back in 1971 when there were no satellite loops to watch hurricanes. During the 80s,90s, to now, the many GOES satellite technologies allow us to see Mother Nature’s most powerful storm in long loops. I can only remember a few (Hugo, Andrew, Charley) that were getting stronger as they reached the coast and only Andrew looked as impressive as Michael. His IR & visible loops are truly awesome to watch. Bravo to the NHC (National Hurricane Center) for nailing the track of this storm 3-4 days in advance. No one can say “I didn’t know it would be this bad” since from the get-go, NHC was indicating Michael would become at least a CAT 3 hurricane, perhaps higher. His 155 mph winds at landfall basically made Michael a Cat. 5 (technically one mph short) Hurricane with the center making landfall just east of Panama City Beach. I’m sure property damage will be extreme & extensive. If you have property west of Panama City (Destin, Water Color, Sea Side, Sea Grove, Rosemary Beach) you should be OK. The worst damage should be from Panama City Beach eastward from Mexico Beach on over to Port St. Joe. Please do not try to venture over there until local governments say it’s OK to come in. Many roads will be closed as power poles/lines are down along with hundreds of thousands of trees. Michael’s winds are far from over as he’s expected to roar through Georgia tonight and then over the Carolinas for Friday. Safe to say, NHC will retire this name. There will never be another Michael.
For us, northerly winds are bringing drier air over the Gulf South and you’ll notice a cooler feel later tonight and tomorrow. It’s very cold (20s & 30s) over the Rockies & Central Plains (with snow!) and that chill will move across us for the rest of this week. Another stronger front arrives early next week and that will bring out the sweaters & jackets. The “Fat lady” has arrived and may even do a surprise singing later tonight. Stay tuned!