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NOAA: Hurricane Michael was the 4th category 5 storm on record to hit the U.S. when it struck in 2018

After reviewing all available data, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have determined Hurricane Michael was a category 5 storm when it made landfall in Florida on October 10, 2018.

It is one of only four category 5 storms to hit the United States on record and the first since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the NOAA says. Michael is the strongest hurricane landfall ever to hit the Florida Panhandle.

Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, the NOAA says. Wind speeds topped out at 160 mph, according to the NOAA, which reviewed the available aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities – including data and analyses that were not available in real time.

Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm, the NOAA says.

Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States. Before hitting the United States, the cyclone brought hurricane-force winds to the western tip of Cuba when it was a category 2 Hurricane.

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