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A Category 4 storm animation shows Hurricane Michael’s “catastrophic” potential

NASA satellite image of Hurricane Michael hitting Florida
NASA Earth Observatory
Hurricane Michael touched down on Wednesday in Florida as a strong Category 4 storm, on the cusp of being a Category 5.
By Zoë Schlanger
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Hurricane Michael just made landfall on the Florida panhandle as a Category 4 storm. Storms qualify for this category if they have sustained wind speeds of 130 to 156 miles per hour. Michael touched down midday Wednesday (Oct.10) with 155-mph winds, just shy of a Category 5, after being supercharged by unusually warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

But what does Category 4 mean, in terms of its capacity for real damage? The National Hurricane Center has turned that piece of meteorological jargon into a graphic animation of a house being shredded by increasingly fast winds, as Brian L Kahn, a senior reporter at Earther, pointed out:

As the National Hurricane Center puts it, during a Category 4, “catastrophic damage will occur”:

Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Hurricane Michael was already ripping roofs off of buildings as of Wednesday afternoon in Panama City Beach, Florida, according to footage from local station ABC 13 WSET News:

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