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NEW VIDEO: Helicopter tour of Mexico Beach, 'It's gone'

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - Most hurricanes quickly fall apart as they move over land. Not Michael. The third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the U.S. mainland carved a path of destruction for roughly 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before its top sustained winds dropped to tropical-storm strength.
    
The National Hurricane Center says Michael did not lose its hurricane status until early Thursday, when its winds finally dropped below 74 mph (119 kph) near Browndale in central Georgia.
    
Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to make landfall, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm, Camille and Andrew in 1992.
    
Michael had top sustained winds of 155 mph (250 kph) when it hit Mexico Beach on Wednesday.
    
It's down to a tropical storm now as it moves over the Carolinas, but forecasters expect it to strengthen again once it moves over the Atlantic.


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