Hurricane Michael reached Mexico Beach in Bay County on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm — the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle on record and the fourth-most powerful storm to ever hit the United States.
Only three recorded hurricanes have reached the country as a Category 5: Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969 and an unnamed storm that hit the Florida Keys in 1935 often referred to as "Labor Day."
Hurricane Michael reached sustained maximum wind speeds of 155 mph as it hit the state. That’s just 2 mph shy of a Category 5, which requires wind speeds of 157 mph, making it the fourth-strongest storm by that measure.
By another measure, minimum central pressure, Michael is the third-most powerful hurricane to reach the U.S. coast.
The minimum central pressure of Michael was 919 mb at landfall — more forceful even than Hurricane Katrina when it hit in 2005. The 1935 Labor Day hurricane’s pressure was 892 mb and Camille was 900 mb. The lower the pressure, the more powerful the storm.
Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist and hurricane expert at Colorado State University, said Michael is the strongest October storm to hit the United States on record by any measure. It is also only the second October Category 4 hurricane to hit Florida.