Michael Makes Landfall as the Most Intense Hurricane Since 1969, Clearing the Skies in Its Path
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Hurricane Michael officially made landfall around 2pm ET on the Florida Gulf Coast just southeast of Panama City, FL. As of the National Hurricane Center advisory just before landfall, the hurricane packed top sustained winds of 155mph and had a central pressure of 919 millibars.
This landfall will go down in the record books as the strongest hurricane — measured by both wind speed and pressure — to make landfall on the contiguous US since 1969 when the Hurricane Camille slammed into Mississippi, killing 259 and causing $1.43 billion (inflation-adjusted) in damages.
Hurricane Michael is likely to be the third straight M-named hurricane to be retired after 2016’s Hurricane Matthew and 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
The incredible power of the storm is pummeling the Florida coast with a lot more than just winds and rain. The storm surge was predicted to be between 9-14 feet at the worst. And the Apalachicola, FL tide gauge that we’ve been monitoring the past few days has spiked up to 8.5 feet of storm surge:
Six airports in the Florida Panhandle announced closures ahead of the storm. Currently, 11 airfields have been shut down — including Albany (ABY) and Valdosta (VLD) in Georgia and Dothan Regional Airport (DHN) in Alabama.
As the hurricane quickly sweeps through the Southeast, we will likely see additional small airport closures as well as delays and cancellations at larger airports. Delta’s Atlanta (ATL) and American Airlines’ Charlotte (CLT) are going to avoid direct hits by Hurricane Michael. Current wind speed probabilities put less than a 30% chance of tropical storm force winds at either airport. However, both are likely to suffer delays and cancellations as conditions worsen.
FlightAware’s cancellation tracker counts 298 flights that have been cancelled so far Wednesday with another 126 cancelled for Thursday and 26 for Friday. Here’s the total number of cancellations for Tuesday-Friday for airports in the path of the storm:
- Charlotte (CLT): 139 cancellations
- Atlanta (ATL): 96 cancellations
- Pensacola (PNS): 70 cancellations
- Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS): 56 cancellations
- Panama City (ECP): 54 cancellations
- Tallahassee (TLH): 53 cancellations
- Charleston, SC (CHS): 33 cancellations
Between these airport closures and airlines wanting to stay far from the core of the historic hurricane, there’s quite a gap in the airspace around Hurricane Michael:
Having to go around such a massive storm is requiring some airlines to take a substantially longer route. For example, American Airlines isn’t getting anywhere close to the core of the storm. Meanwhile, Spirit is cutting it a lot closer and Southwest is taking the shortest route going over the core of the hurricane:
While most airlines are giving the hurricane a wide berth and many airfields closed in the path of the storm, airlines are still operating in and out of Mobile (MOB) — and, of course, you know how Delta loves to fly in and around hurricanes. A SkyWest-operated Delta Connection flight landed in Mobile (MOB) just after 11am CT on a flight in from Atlanta (ATL):
Shortly after, the flight turned and flew back to Atlanta (ATL), taking off shortly before 12pm CT in light winds. Although earlier flights into Mobile had diverted — perhaps emboldened by Delta’s success — United (ExpressJet) and American (Mesa) are also now operating flights into the outskirts of Hurricane Michael.
Protect Your Travels
Hurricane Michael is another reminder to book flights with a card that offers solid trip delay and cancellation insurance. Currently, I’m using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to book my flights going forward. Another top choice is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.