Hurricane MICHAEL made landfall just north of Mexico Beach, Florida USA at 18:00 hours (GMT+1)/13:00 hours Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) at the extreme of a Category 4 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Scale). The hurricane had intensified in the last 3 hours prior to landfall from a Category 3, with sustained wind speeds being recorded at 155mph (135knt) at higher altitudes (Category 5 hurricane winds are above 156mph). Wind gusts at ground level were recorded at 129mph in Panama City, Florida.
2-4m (6’-12’) storm surge preceded the storm and deluged much of the low lying ‘Pan Handle’ and ‘Big Bend’ areas of Northeast Florida.
As the hurricane made landfall widespread devastation occurred in Mexico Beach communities and in Panama City; the towns were initially flooded by storm surge and then struck by high energy winds. Both Mexico Beach and Panama City bore the brunt of the storm with numerous examples of light framed buildings being destroyed, as well as more protective buildings suffering extensive wind damage.
Elsewhere, the northeast coast of Florida saw storm surge which quickly flooded roads and coastal communities, especially Apalachicola, Carabelle, Panacea, and St Marks in the ‘Big Bend’ region of the State. This was exacerbated by high tides 2-3 hours after the storm made land.
MICHAEL moved quickly in land and rapidly lost energy, though it did cause widespread power outages and localised damage from the high wind speeds as it moved northeast across northern Florida, southeast Alabama, and into southern Georgia. 12hrs after making landfall, MICHAEL was downgraded to a Tropical Storm as it continued to make its way across Georgia on a northeasterly track towards the Atlantic coast.
MIS had tracked Hurricane MICHAEL from its genesis from a broad low-pressure area that formed in the south-western Caribbean Sea on 2 October 2018. Analysts were already formulating which Sources and Agencies (SANDA) they would use if triggered by the LMA.
This SANDA included:
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- National Hurricane Centre (NHC)
- National Weather Service (NWS)
- United States Geological Survey (USGS)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Social Media (Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook)
- Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems throughout the states affected including Webcams and traffic cameras.
- Local, National and International News / Media outlets
SANDA was monitored for 24 hours pre and post MICHAEL’s landfall and was used to form the initial Exposure report for the market which was delivered initially within 12 hours of landfall and was subsequently updated 12 hours later. The SANDA were able to provide data on storm surge, wind speeds, rain and flooding levels as well as where power had been interrupted and roads blocked. News outlets provided round the clock coverage showing live feeds from the affected areas which allowed analysts to determine broad damage levels both within major towns and settlements but also across Zip Codes of the affected states.
Mexico Beach, Post Hurricane Michael - © NOAA 2018
MIS analysts are all ex British Military Intelligence analysts with a broad range of experience in UK Military Operations. They are also graduates of the UK Military Imagery Analysis Course and have a wealth of knowledge in remote sensing and imagery analysis. In addition the analysts are highly experienced in the use of Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and use QGIS in order to extract and display information gained from the integration of information and imagery.
Using a broad range of SANDA to monitor the effects of a devastating storm as it makes landfall ensures that analysts and the market get a broad view of the likely exposure from the event. Reports are never taken in isolation and are effectively layered against one another to provide an all source picture.
The use of multiple sources also negates the loss of other sources which may rely on external electrical supply (one of the first losses following high wind speeds). The loss of power can also be used to gauge the effect that the storm is having as well as tracking where the storm is and its speed.
This process gives a broad outline of the likely effects that a hurricane will have as it makes landfall but is a proven capability and allows the market to gain a degree of potential exposure while not having to wait 24-48 hours for imagery to become available once the storm has left the area.
Created By: Oz Smith © 2019