Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned.
October 8, 2018 1:43 PM   Subscribe

In the span of less than a week, Hurricane Michael has gone from being a low pressure system on October 2nd, all the way to a full-fledged hurricane by October 7th. By the time it makes landfall tomorrow, it is projected to be a major Category 3 Storm.

The friendly folks over at /r/Tropical Weather (reddit) have some amazingly detailed information about the storm, as does Mike's Weather Page (facebook link).

Previously, Hurricane Hermine knocked out power to the region for nearly a week two years ago.

Those in the path of the storm are busy prepping for the storm. The hurricane season doesn't officially end until November 30th, and September is considered the peak month of hurricane season. But October is Florida's peak month for hurricane risks.
posted by PearlRose (55 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this. I find that this is one of the things Reddit actually tends to do pretty well....niche subreddits where serious wonks tend to hang out.


People starting to freak because Cantore was spotted at the ft walton beach Airport
posted by nevercalm at 1:59 PM on October 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

We're still holding our breath over here in NE Florida although the last few NHC updates have been pretty positive for us. Cars are gassed and water stores are topped up just in case though. This one is gonna be a son of a bitch.
posted by saladin at 2:04 PM on October 8, 2018

As a Gulf Coast resident all I can say is: as always I'm grateful that it's not us, and heartbroken that it has to be someone else. If you're evacuating without pets and New Orleans is within your travel distance, give me a shout.
posted by komara at 2:17 PM on October 8, 2018 [13 favorites]

I have family in Tallahassee I'm concerned about. At least they know the drill and won't underestimate the danger or anything. (I mean, sure I moved to the opposite coast to get away from them, but that doesn't mean I don't still worry about their well-being!)
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:19 PM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

The NHC's current landfall estimate is Wednesday afternoon--not tomorrow--tho there is a lot of variability in the model guidance, it seems prudent to stick with the NHC estimate for now.
posted by thack3r at 2:41 PM on October 8, 2018

Good luck Florida. Solidarity from Wilmington.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:12 PM on October 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Full discolsure: I am in the projected path of the hurricane, and making this post seemed like a good way to parse some of the links I'd been stress reading this afternoon.

Secondly, yes, the storm is projected to make landfall officially sometime Wednesday, but we will be feeling the impact of the outer bands as soon as tomorrow afternoon or evening. From what I understand, landfall is when the eye of the storm officially touches land, and this is a big storm. Conditions will deteriorate well beforehand. (That said, I'm just an armchair hurricane watcher because I've lived in Florida all my life and kind of had to be.) But my apologies anyway if I have mixed up the terminology somewhat.

That said, I'll drop a note to the mods to update the language since I did goof it up in the body of the message!
posted by PearlRose at 4:10 PM on October 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

I think Tropical Tidbits gives an intelligent look at storms. I have a bad feeling about this one. I think with potentially rapidly strengthening storms, the wind speed is often underestimated by the models. I believe it will be more eastern than the center of the cone.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:30 PM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

take a look at surgedat

take a look at the National Geodetic Survey response photography (to be updated)

of course, way back, a case for updating the Safir-Simpson Scale (why Michael is not just a "3")
posted by eustatic at 7:21 PM on October 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Here in the doormat we've had regular squall lines every hour or so since 4 am Monday, but it's thinning out to mist now. It seems pretty wet and I'm concerned about the rainfall predictions for landfall in Panama City.

Please be well prepared.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:25 AM on October 9, 2018

My friend's son is a freshman at FSU and is on his way home right now (currently on the tarmac in Atlanta via a connecting flight) because they've closed the campus.

Stay safe, everyone.
posted by cooker girl at 7:57 AM on October 9, 2018

Hurricane set to collide with Florida politics
posted by growabrain at 10:41 AM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hopping around various sites this morning, I'm seeing 933 mb, apparently the lowest pressure for a landfall hurricane in the US. Cat 5 may a possibility soon. A fast moving hurricane with catastrophic winds.
View from
posted by carter at 5:23 AM on October 10, 2018

Edit: And a little searching, and the 933 mb claim is probably for Gulf hurricanes ...? Much lower pressure Atlantic hurricanes have landed in the past.
posted by carter at 5:30 AM on October 10, 2018

And edit: Lowest landfall pressure for October, apparently.
*heads off to make more coffee*
posted by carter at 5:43 AM on October 10, 2018

Levi Cowan (Tropical Tidbits) is pretty much off the air as he lives in Tallahassee.
posted by carter at 5:54 AM on October 10, 2018

it is projected to be a major Category 3 Storm Category 4 Storm now. Ouch.
posted by pharm at 5:57 AM on October 10, 2018

The Washington Post has again removed article limits on hurricane stories. Here's the latest update from the excellent Capital Weather Gang: Hurricane Michael forecast: Storm could become the strongest to strike Florida Panhandle
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:43 AM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Is this sort of phrasing from the NWS typical of a Cat4/5 storm?
posted by Mitheral at 7:32 AM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

That's not far off from typical. The warnings usually employ terms like catastrophic damage, etc. This is speaking directly to people in the evacuation zone.

It's the storm that's not typical.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:41 AM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Guardian is doing some intelligent live blogging.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:19 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

that message has been replaced by "shelter in place immediately"
posted by thelonius at 9:31 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

IIRC, before Katrina the warnings used more staid language, as part of a tradition that government communications should be understated and not induce panic. But then it seemed people weren't getting the right message from the understated warnings, or weren't evacuating because they had warning fatigue. The warning for Katrina was the first (or one of the first?) to use the much more graphic language, to really encourage people to get the hell out.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:34 AM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's somehow still strengthening. 918mb pressure on the last pass, which the weather nerds at r/TropicalWeather seem to think will mean likely cat 5 or just shy of it. So just a giant fucking tornado bearing down on the Panhandle.

And tons of people didn't evacuate because they all thought it would be a cat 1 or 2, and no one expects a hurricane to go from 1 to fucking 5 in like 24 hours.

Jesus Christ.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:39 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Does anyone know what this will do to the toxic algae problems? I mean, hopefully wash them...away?

Christ that's a shitty silver lining. Good luck Floridians.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:44 AM on October 10, 2018

From a storm chaser driving round. Hurricane Michael LIve Stream, Destin To Panama City Florida - 10/10/2018
posted by Buntix at 10:05 AM on October 10, 2018

Hurricane chaser Brett Adair has had his SUV picked up by the storm surge. Livefeed went underwater. Probably no good news to be had.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:35 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Twitter is saying that he got a phone call out & is safe for the moment. Well, as safe as you can be in a house with a hurricane storm surge pummelling it I guess.
posted by pharm at 10:49 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

@EricHolthaus "Based on hurricane hunter data, radar data, and this satellite loop, there's a case that Michael may have intensified slightly *after* landfall -- and may now be a Category 5.

The NHC will make that final call in the post-season report.

A history-shattering storm, for sure."

There was some talk on one of the Reddit threads of a possible brown ocean effect [Wikipedia]
The brown ocean effect is an observed weather phenomenon involving tropical cyclones after landfall. They are commonly expected to lose energy when they make landfall, but instead maintain strength or intensify over land surfaces.


One source of the brown ocean effect has been identified as the large amount of latent heat that can be released from extremely wet soils.
posted by Buntix at 11:10 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Has anyone seen data on the degree to which the ultra-fast storm intensification over the past 24 hours is also record-breaking? It certainly seems out of the ordinary but I haven't seen any concrete stats.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 11:19 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I started a check-in thread for those affected by Hurricane Michael.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:20 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

@ReaganMatt "LISTEN: A sink in a hotel on Panama City Beach seems to be whistling from the wind. Extremely creepy. I don't think i've ever seen anything like this. "

Note: the sound is in no way creepy IMLTHO (although experiencing it may be), it's actually remarkably close to being a harmonised tune, would be good sleep music.
posted by Buntix at 11:38 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

that Michael may have intensified slightly *after* landfall

Never heard of that before. Thanks 2018.

My updates from local friends in the Tallahassee and surrounding areas indicate that Mexico Beach is, well, pulverized. Word of mouth reports that El Govenor Motel may have collapsed. Highway 98 running along the coast is going to be out of commission in numerous spots. I saw images from hours ago where it was already crumbling in East Point, that means it'll likely be bad all along there from St. Marks to Panama City, that road is already, literally, on the water in many, many places even during normal weather. I fear for St. George Island and Apalachicola, NHC said the latter was under 4 foot of water earlier and that has to have gotten worse as the day wore on and the storm made landfall (and the tide rose to high tide as well).

It's bad. I hope it doesn't get worse. I think it's going to miss Tallahassee and spare them a direct hit but they'll still get the stronger / bad side. My work buddy who lives in the outskirts of town dropped offline about 4 hours ago, he'll be fine but he wishes he'd cut some pine trees sooner rather than the appointment he had on the books to have them topped/taken down 2 weeks from now.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:10 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Reading updates from the Washington Post. Scrolling through all the pictures they got from Twitter, the damage from landfall and storm surge is huge.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:12 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Apparently it’s headed to Georgia as a hurricane, and Georgia doesn’t have Florida’s post-Andrew building codes, and no one is prepared, because they’re in Georgia.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:14 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ah ha! That's where I recognize the name Brett Adair from. He was the newscaster in Birmingham.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:26 PM on October 10, 2018

It got the Waffle House.
posted by MrVisible at 1:32 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

A New Orleans weatherman that I know posted video of his ride-along into the eye of Micheal a few hours ago. It's intense. I mentioned it in the checkin thread as well.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:42 PM on October 10, 2018

Brett Adair quote from when he realized shit was going from bad to worse:

"I mean we're in trouble, bad trouble... Fuck all this, that's what I'm saying, it's not an option now."

The real trouble starts at about 9 mins in that linked video by the way. It degrades fast.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:00 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

End of the Brett Adair video is bleak.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:22 PM on October 10, 2018

This article, among other things, has a longer clip (15 more minutes) from Brett Adair's video feed. Apparently he's OK.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:42 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

It got the Waffle House.

There used to be a billboard on top of that brown pole that's fallen onto the Waffle House.
posted by asperity at 2:43 PM on October 10, 2018

It is mindboggling how fast this storm intensified and how strong and cohesive it stayed after landfall (a category three on the Georgia/Alabama border!?)

It sounds like a lot of people didn't or couldn't evacuate. The reasons why are heartbreaking:
“The main reason, they probably won’t tell you that, but it’s because they don’t have the money,” said Wesley Byrd, 80. “Half the people in this town don’t have a driver’s license, don’t have a car. They ride bicycles and golf carts ... I’ve been here long enough I know them all. They’re poor. They’re fishermen.”

Byrd drove his cherry red golf cart toward his mobile home park with a Natural Light beer in tow. He said he was planning to leave his home of 36 years, but only to go down the street to a friend’s house, which is even closer to Dickerson Bay but sturdier than his home — and lifted off the ground by stilts.

Byrd drove his cherry red golf cart toward his mobile home park with a Natural Light beer in tow. He said he was planning to leave his home of 36 years, but only to go down the street to a friend’s house, which is even closer to Dickerson Bay but sturdier than his home — and lifted off the ground by stilts.

Byrd’s neighbor, 18-year-old Jenna Clark, said she wants to leave but her father would never agree. He’s a lifelong resident of the area, and his cabinet business is just down the road. He also catches stone crab in the bay.

“Everything is here,” she said. “People around here honestly have nowhere else to go.”

Wakulla County has one hurricane shelter, a local elementary school — but it is not fortified to withstand winds above a Category 2 storm. Hurricane Michael is predicted to make landfall as a Category 3, meaning the people of this county and others near the Gulf must make their way elsewhere, like Leon County, where officials plan to open five high schools for refugees.

Franklin County, the home of Apalachicola, also does not have a shelter.
It's a bad combination: a storm that got dangerous quickly, a region with a lot of poor people, and a long time since the last major hurricane. The photos of the damage are grim, and I hope by some miracle they're not a good indication of the likely number of casualties.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, it looks like what's left of Michael is going to hit a whole bunch of the areas still recovering from Florence on its way out to the Atlantic. What a godawful mess.
posted by karayel at 10:18 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Does anyone know what this will do to the toxic algae problems? I mean, hopefully wash them...away?

Potentially more the opposite at first, it appears: Toxic Red Tide Could Sicken People as Hurricane Michael Pushes It Ashore [Bloomberg]
But one risk is that the breaking waves could turn the algae into an airborne toxin, spreading the risk beyond the reach of the storm surge.

“Bubbles make an excellent surface for them,” Pierce said. “It’s a very efficient mechanism for getting toxins from the water onshore.”

Karl Havens, director of the Florida Sea Grant College Program and a professor of fishers and aquatic sciences at the University of Florida, said the harm of the red tide will depend on whether the storms pushes the algae deep into the water or leaves it near the surface of the ocean, and how quickly fresh water from rainfall flows back toward the coast, killing the algae.

“It depends on many attributes of the particular storm,” Havens said by email.

The storm could also mitigate the red tide problem, by breaking up the concentrations of red tide, according to Aileen Marty, director of the Health Travel Medicine Program at Florida International University.

“There might be a temporary, very brief increase in concentration,” Marty told AccuWeather.

Frank Muller-Karger, a professor of biological oceanography at the University of Maryland, said he thinks the red tide algae would probably die quickly once the storm surge pushed it inland.
posted by Buntix at 4:41 AM on October 11, 2018

Surgedat shows Appalachicola had 8 feet, Panama City had 4, there's a tremendous difference in how much barrier island people had in front of them

NOAA NGS is up since yesterday, coordinates in the URL

Port st joe

Island Breach

Mexico Beach, Content Warning for some of us

Panama City Walmart

oil spills, marina

Paper mill waste

oil Tank leak, looks like, seems contained

more tanks, contained

posted by eustatic at 5:45 AM on October 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

Thank you very much eustatic for this visual data. What's the story behind this sort of thing going live because, wow, so fast and powerful....?
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:22 AM on October 12, 2018

Thanks eustatic. I started looking up the equivalent images in google maps to see the before picture.

The way to do it is take the NOAA URL (for example, Mexico Beach)
Copy out the latitude and longitude at the end
Replace the forward slash with a comma
And plug it into the location field for google maps and search.
Result: link to google map
Caveat: Satellite images from google maps may be years old, and not show recent activity or construction.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:39 AM on October 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Tallahassee DSA is out doing mutual aid work right now. They have a gofundme
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on October 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

RolandofEld, the best quick overview I've seen on how/why the storm intensified so quickly and stayed so strong is this piece by Robinson Meyer.
posted by karayel at 6:31 PM on October 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Florida Couple Rescued After Niece Finds Satellite Image of H-E-L-P on Lawn - Pam Wright, The Weather Channel
"I was checking on damages in the area on houses that belong to my family and I came across my grandma's house," Amber Gee told ABC News. "And they had the word H-E-L-P written out in the yard."
Her aunt & uncle were trapped on their property by fallen trees.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:12 PM on October 16, 2018

Why the Current Hurricane Rating System Needs to Be Scrapped.
For decades, hurricanes have been rated on a scale of 1 to 5 based solely on a storm’s wind speeds. But as recent hurricanes show, a tropical cyclone’s winds often tell us little about its real threats — coastal storm surge and precipitation-driven flooding.
posted by adamvasco at 2:04 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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