Hurricane Michael classified as a Category 5 in post-storm analysis

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Michael, which devastated Florida's Mexico Beach when it made landfall on October 10, becomes the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Cat 5 since Hurricane Andrew brought "destruction at dawn" to South Miami-Dade in August 1992.

That's the word from the National Hurricane Center, which on Friday released its detailed post-storm analysis on Hurricane Michael. The storm was directly responsible for 16 deaths and left parts of the state's panhandle devastated.

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Hurricane Michael to a rare Category 5 storm at the time it made landfall last October near Mexico Beach, Florida.

Obtaining a hurricane's maximum wind speeds by weather stations is almost impossible due to their sparse locations and are often damaged during such severe storms.

Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. That's a troubling reality that can't be summed up by a category number. They've determined that its estimated intensity at landfall was 160 miles per hour (257 kph), a 5 miles per hour (8 kph) increase over the operational estimate used last fall, NOAA said in a news release.

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The NHC bumped up landfall winds based on an extensive analysis of reconnaissance aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressure, Doppler winds and estimates of intensity from satellite imagery.

Hurricane Michael's legacy is still being written.

"We note that the 5-[knot] increase in estimated maximum wind speed at landfall is small and well within the normal uncertainty", they wrote. The causes included falls during the post-storm clean up, traffic accidents and medical issues compounded by the hurricane. More than 45,000 structures were damaged and more than 1,500 destroyed in the county, including severe damage to two hospitals.

Besides wind speed, atmospheric pressure is also used to measure storm intensity, with a lower central pressure generally meaning higher winds. Other Category 5 storms include the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

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