Michael likely was Cat 5

Published 1:42 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Meteorologist predicts storm will be reclassified

Meteorologist Spinks Megginson said that the tracking guidance technology was perfect for Hurricane Michael, but what needs work is the intensity guidance technology.

Yesterday, Megginson spoke on weather preparedness at the Covington County Fall Senior Summit sponsored by Comfort Care Hospice. The Brewton resident also is a youth minister.

“Hurricane Michael is in a very elite group of hurricanes,” Megginson said. “It was actually strengthening up until the point that it crossed the coast. Hurricane technology has really come so far, even in the last 10 years. The Cone of Uncertainty has actually gotten smaller over the years, so that means that the confidence that we have in tracking these storms has substantially increased.”

Megginson said that one area that meteorologists struggle with is the intensity guidance technology.

“We still struggle with intensity guidance because early on we were still saying, ‘Hey, we have a tropical storm and it may be a low end hurricane,’” Megginson said. “Nobody’s radar had it estimated to be a category four, maybe category five hurricane.”

The weather world needs humility, Megginson said.

“We need to realize that we don’t know everything,” Megginson said. “So we need humility. Our tracking was spot on, but again, we didn’t do well on the intensity.”

The tracking guidance was spot on, but was it too little too late for the people that wanted to ride out the storm, Megginson said.

“By Monday morning on Oct. 8, there was a hurricane watch at 8 a.m.,” Megginson said. “By Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center already issued a hurricane warning. On Oct. 9, it was classified as a category two hurricane and 15 hours before landfall, it rapidly strengthened into a high-end category four hurricane.”

Megginson said that there is evidence that Hurricane Michael may be reassessed.

“Officially there was a sensor down at Tindell Air Base that measured wind gusts at 155 miles per hour,” Megginson said. “But the sensor failed at 155 mph, so there is an argument to be made that Hurricane Michael could have been a category five at landfall. I think that what people will see in the coming months and years is that professionals will look at Hurricane Michael again and reassess it to be a category five hurricane.”

Megginson said that the timber industry in Southeast Alabama, the panhandle of Florida and Southwest Georgia could lose billions of dollars because of Hurricane Michael.

“It is going to be in the billions of dollars lost,” Megginson said. “Mostly because of all of the timber that was lost.”

Megginson said that the people of the panhandle still need support.

“These people of course need our love and prayers,” Megginson said. “But more importantly, they need our support in any way that we can give it. Whether it be in our time, money or talent, we need to help them.”

Hurricane Michael goes down in history being only the fourth that has ever strengthened before it hit landfall. Others that are in the same category are Hurricane Camille in 1969, Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“2018 will always be remembered as the year of Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence,” Megginson said. “And as I always say, ‘It only takes one.’”

Megginson also recommended his free app, Redzone Weather.

“Redzone is a free app and we are also on Facebook,” Megginson said. “We cover 12 counties and we do this so that people will know what is going on in these more rural areas.”