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A look back at 2 October hurricanes with lasting impacts in Florida

Revisiting Hurricanes Matthew and Michael

FLORIDA – Historically, October has proven to be a busy part of hurricane season for Florida as attention shifts to the Caribbean, Bay of Campeche, and Gulf of Mexico for tropical formation.

There are two hurricanes in recent history that have done their fair share of damage to the Sunshine State, including Central Florida.

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Hurricane Matthew formed off the coast of Africa in late September of 2016 and moved into the Caribbean as a tropical storm. Over a period of three days Matthew grew to a category 5 major hurricane with peak winds at 166 mph just north of Colombia. Matthew weakend a little approaching and making landfall in eastern Cuba and Haiti on Oct. 4 as a Category 4 hurricane. It was the first Category 4 tropical cyclone to make landfall in Haiti in 52 years. Some cities on the northwest side of Haiti received more than twenty inches of rain and more than ten hours of hurricane-force winds. At least 210,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged and more than 500 lives were lost.

The next day Central Florida was preparing for potential landfall. All Orlando-area theme parks closed for the first time since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

By Oct. 7 the eye of Hurricane Matthew was just offshore from Central Florida. Nearly 1 million residents were left without power from the Category 3 hurricane as it passed by. There were millions of dollars in damages at the Kennedy Space Center. Over a mile of A1A in Flagler Beach was washed away which cost $22.4 million dollars to repair.

Hurricane Matthew damages A1A in Flagler Beach.
Hurricane Matthew damages A1A in Flagler Beach.

Matthew made landfall the next day just northeast of Charelston, South Carolina and proceeded to fall apart. The name was retired after it’s deadly and destructive impacts in the 2016 hurricane season.

Hurricane Michael was another M storm that was retired after wreaking havoc on the panhandle in October 2018. The monster category 5 major hurricane made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base on Oct. 10 with max sustained winds at 160 mph. It was the most intense hurricane on record to strike the panhandle.

MEXICO BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 19: James Whiddon looks over damage caused by Hurricane Michael on October 19, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on October 10, as a category 4 storm causing massive damage and claiming over 30 lives.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
MEXICO BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 19: James Whiddon looks over damage caused by Hurricane Michael on October 19, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on October 10, as a category 4 storm causing massive damage and claiming over 30 lives. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Michael formed over the central and western Caribbean and quickly turned into a Category 5 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall. The worst damage was in Mexico Beach where 1584 buildings out of the 1692 in the town were damaged. Over half of the buildings were completely destroyed.

Track positions for Hurricane Michael 2018.
Track positions for Hurricane Michael 2018. (NOAA)

Overall Michael caused $25 billion in damages of which $18 billion occurred in Florida. Damages extended to Alabama to the Carolinas and Virginia before moving into the Atlantic later falling apart near Portugal. Thirty-one people died as a direct result from Michael with another 43 lives lost indirectly.


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