Monster Hurricane Michael from 2018 gets late upgrade to category 5 storm

NOAA revisited the fierce hurricane's wind intensity and changed its grade.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

Hurricane Michael ripped into the community of Mexico Beach, Florida, last October.

US Coast Guard

Hurricane Michael smashed into Florida on Oct. 10 last year, with the state's governor, Rick Scott, calling it an "absolute monster." The storm was directly responsible for 16 deaths and left parts of the state's panhandle devastated. The hurricane was even worse than we knew at the time.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center finished analyzing the storm and announced Friday it has been upgraded to a category 5 from a category 4 at landfall. That one step up can make a difference in how we view the hurricane.

The storm's estimated intensity at landfall is now pegged at 140 knots (160 mph, 257 km/h). That's five knots higher than originally estimated and enough to bump it into category 5 territory.

NOAA said the change in category came about after a thorough look at "surface winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities -- including data and analyses that were not available in real time."

This makes Hurricane Michael the first category 5 to hit the US since 1992's Hurricane Andrew. It's only the forth of its kind on record for the US, including the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.   

Hurricane Michael's legacy is still being written. Months later, parts of the panhandle are still trying to recover as residents try to rebuild their lives. That's a troubling reality that can't be summed up by a category number.

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