Hurricane Michael: The strongest storm of 2018’s season brought flooding to southwest Virginia

Safety in the Storm

(WFXR) — Hurricane Michael is a memorable storm from the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Not only did the tropical cyclone impact thousands along the Florida Panhandle, but it also brought major flooding to portions of southwest Virginia.

Michael became a named tropical storm on Oct. 7 — just off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. By Oct. 8, Michael intensified to a Category 1 hurricane near the westernmost tip of Cuba.

From there, the storm underwent rapid intensification as it entered the Gulf of Mexico. On Oct. 9, Michael developed into a major Category 3 hurricane.

Just before making landfall near Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 10 around 1:30 p.m., Michael strengthened into a dangerous Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 161 mph. As the storm made landfall, it continued to produce damaging winds, heavy rain, and anywhere from four to 14 feet of storm surge to parts of the panhandle.

Michael began to weaken as it moved further inland – returning to tropical storm status over Georgia on Oct. 11. The storm later became a remnant low as it moved through eastern North Carolina and northeast into Virginia’s Tidewater.

In Virginia, remnants of Michael produced seven weak tornadoes. Gusty winds blew down trees and power lines. At one point, it was reported around 600,000 Virginians were without power.

Another major impact to the Commonwealth was heavy rainfall. A cold front moving in from the west interacted with the remnants of Michael. This front enhanced the rainfall in the area, especially southeast of Interstate 81. Rainfall amounts of four to eight inches were reported across southwest and central Virginia with amounts of more than 10 inches in spots south of U.S. 460.

Major river flooding was reported along the Dan, Roanoke, and New rivers. Flash Flood Emergencies were issued for Roanoke and Pittsylvania counties, including the cities of Roanoke and Danville.

Overall, the winds, storm surge, and rains produced by Michael directly caused 16 deaths in the United States: seven people in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina, and one person in Georgia.

Freshwater flooding was the cause of death for the five people who died in Virginia: two of those people died near Danville, two were in Charlotte County, and one person died near Mount Hermon in Pittsylvania County.

In the end, Michael resulted in $25.5 billion in damage. It was the most intense landfalling mainland U.S. hurricane since Camille in 1969. Michael was also the first landfalling Category 5 hurricane in the U.S. since Andrew in 1992.

View the full final report of Hurricane Michael that includes details on damage from the National Hurricane Center below.

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