Michael was downgraded Thursday night to a post-tropical cyclone as the storm moved into Virginia, bringing the death toll to 11 people.
Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane before cutting a swath of destruction through parts of Georgia and Virginia. Officials worry the number of people killed could rise once they sift through the debris.
The storm’s center will “move away from the United States today and move rapidly across the open Atlantic Ocean” beginning Friday night and through Sunday, the National Hurricane Center reported Friday morning.
Michael is expected to produce storm surge flooding along the North Carolina coast, drop rain on New England, and could even produce up to 5 inches of rain in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts before moving out to the Atlantic Ocean.
— Florida Today (@Florida_Today) October 12, 2018
At least five of the deaths occurred in Virginia, according to officials. Four died after being swept away in floodwaters along roads, and the fifth was a firefighter who was killed in a crash along a highway, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Officials believe the storm could become one of the most intense hurricanes to make landfall in U.S. history behind only Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.
Michael accomplished that feat when it hit an estimated minimum central pressure of 919 millibars upon arriving — it surpassed Katrina at 920 mb in 2005, according to reports Wednesday from the National Weather Service.
Incredible reporting from @BrookeBCNN who is in a helicopter en route to Mexico Beach, Florida. She’ll be one of the first on the ground to tell us what happened there in the wake of #HurricaneMichael @CNN pic.twitter.com/jWIQNrZxEY
— Poppy Harlow (@PoppyHarlowCNN) October 11, 2018
Only Camille and the Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane, both of which were Category 5 hurricanes, had lower central pressure landfall. The lower the pressure, the more intense the hurricane — central pressure is but one of the metrics used to determine a storm’s intensity. (RELATED: Here’s What You Need To Know About Hurricane Michael As It Targets Florida)
Most continental U.S. Category 4 hurricane landfalls happen in either September or August, or sometime during the middle part of the hurricane season, which generally extends between June 1 and Nov. 30.
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