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Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Florida Panhandle last fall, was actually stronger than initially measured, prompting forecasters to posthumously upgrade it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 5, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday.

The upgraded status means Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record.

National Hurricane Center scientists conducted a detailed post-storm analysis for Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, and Tyndall Air Force Base on Oct. 10, 2018. They’ve determined that its estimated intensity at landfall was 160 mph (257 kph), a 5 mph (8 kph) increase over the operational estimate used last fall, NOAA said in a news release. That puts Michael just barely over the 157 mph (252 kph) threshold for a category 5 hurricane. Just 36 hours before hitting Florida’s coast, Michael was making its way through the Gulf of Mexico as a 90 mph (145 kph) Category 1 storm.

Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a small area, and the change is of little practical significance, NOAA said. Both categories signify the potential for catastrophic damage. Michael was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the U.S., and parts of the Florida Panhandle are still recovering from the destruction more than six months later.

The new landfall speed was determined by a review of the available aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities, NOAA said. That includes data and analyses that weren’t available during the storm. The increase in the estimated maximum sustained wind speed from the operational estimate is small and well within the normal range of uncertainty, NOAA said.

In addition to Hurricanes Michael and Andrew, the only other Category 5 storms known to have made landfall in the U.S. are the Labor Day Hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935 and Hurricane Camille, which ravaged the Mississippi coast in 1969. Michael is also the strongest hurricane landfall on record in the Florida Panhandle and only the second known Category 5 landfall on the northern Gulf coast.

Besides wind speed, atmospheric pressure is also used to measure storm intensity, with a lower central pressure generally meaning higher winds. Michael’s central pressure at landfall is the third lowest on record for a landfalling U.S. hurricane since reliable records began in 1900, trailing only the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille of 1969.

Source: Fox News National

New Mexico became the national leader in pecan production last year after Hurricane Michael struck down large swaths of Georgia’s crop, new U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers show.

New Mexico produced about 90 million pounds of pecans in 2018 compared to Georgia’s 56 million, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reports .

Georgia, traditionally the largest pecan-producing state, saw its crop crippled by the storm, cutting production by almost half from 107 million pounds.

Lenny Wells, associate professor of Horticulture with a focus on pecans at the University of Georgia, said 17 percent of the state’s pecan acreage was lost to the storm.

Georgia lost about $100 million in pecan crops, $260 million in trees, and up to $200 million in future income, Wells said.

“We had some pretty severe devastation,” Wells said.

The storm landed in the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10 and quickly moved into Georgia’s southwest corner with winds up to 125 mph.

It proceeded into the state with winds sustained at about 100 mph.

Hurricane Michael was the first Category 3 storm to impact Georgia since the 1890s, the National Weather Service reported.

In 2017, about 97 percent of New Mexico’s 90 million pounds of pecans were produced in five of its 33 counties, according to the most recent data from the USDA’s New Mexico Annual Bulletin.

About 73 percent of the statewide crop came from Doña Ana County, with Eddy County producing about 11 percent.

Records show Texas and Arizona ranked third and fourth in production.

New Mexico reported a growth of almost 50 million pounds in the past decade from 43 million pounds in 2008.

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, http://www.currentargus.com/

Source: Fox News National

Strong winds and more snow hit the Midwest on Friday following a spring storm that buried several states in snow, while forecasters warned churches in the South to prepare for strong thunderstorms and potential weekend tornadoes.

The storm hovering over parts of Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota was the second “bomb cyclone” storm system to hit the region in a month. The blizzard was blamed for hundreds of vehicle crashes in Minnesota and left behind 25 inches of snow (63.5 centimeters) in northeast South Dakota.

Authorities in central Minnesota said lightning struck a tree and a shed in the city of Isanti during a rare “thunder snow” storm, sending the building up in flames.

Flood warnings were issued Friday for the Red River along the Minnesota-North Dakota border, but the river wasn’t expected to swell to levels seen during last month’s severe Midwest flooding, said National Weather Service forecaster Greg Gust.

Forecasters warned that unseasonably low temperatures would remain through the weekend in the region following a low pressure system in the southwest U.S. that created two separate “chunks of energy,” one in the Midwest and one in the South, Gust said.

“It is part of the same one-two punch that has accompanied the storms over the past few months,” Gust said. “An upper cut followed by a hook.”

Gusty wind, hail and potential tornadoes were forecast Saturday in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, eastern Texas and western Alabama. Similar weather was forecast Sunday in Georgia and the rest of Alabama, said Adam Baker, a weather service forecaster.

“Even a weak tornado that hits the right location can still be pretty devastating,” Baker said.

The National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, warned churches to have someone monitor the weather during Sunday services amid heightened risk for damaging tornadoes.

The agency advised pastors to figure out the safest location for their congregations in case of severe weather, noting that large open rooms such as sanctuaries and auditoriums weren’t safe.

A series of tornadoes on Palm Sunday in 1994 killed 40 people in Georgia and Alabama, and injured hundreds more. Half the deaths occurred when a tornado struck a rural Alabama church during services, causing the roof to collapse, according to a report about the damage by U.S. weather officials.

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Associated Press writer Sudhuin Thanawala contributed to this report from Atlanta.

Source: Fox News National

Heavy snow and strong winds hammered parts of the central U.S. on Thursday, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people and creating hazardous travel conditions a day after pummeling Colorado.

The spring blizzard — the second “bomb cyclone” storm system to hit the region in a month — left behind hundreds of canceled flights at Denver International Airport, along with wintertime temperatures and snarled traffic before blanketing parts of South Dakota in as much as 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) of snow.

Hundreds of schools canceled classes in Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota, where the governor closed state offices in much of the state for a second day Thursday because of dangerous road conditions.

The Minnesota State Patrol said it had responded to more than 200 crashes statewide since Wednesday, while the National Guard stood ready to rescue any stranded motorists. In Nebraska, the State Patrol sent additional troopers into the state’s panhandle, and several highways were closed.

Whiteout conditions were reported in western Nebraska and northwest Kansas, while blizzard conditions were expected to linger into early Friday in Minnesota.

A “bomb cyclone” is a weather phenomenon that entails a rapid drop in air pressure and a storm strengthening explosively. Mike Connelly, a weather service meteorologist in Aberdeen, South Dakota, said this week’s storm system drew up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it moved out of the Rocky Mountains.

Connelly said that could translate into as much as 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow in parts of South Dakota and Minnesota, and make the snowfall “historic.”

“This time of year (in) the central, southern Plains, you get severe weather — thunderstorms and tornadoes. Unfortunately in the Dakotas, we get feet of snow,” he said.

Nearly 40,000 homes and business were without power across Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa early Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. The main culprit was snow and ice accumulating on power lines, along with strong winds, said Matt Lindstrom, spokesman for Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy.

In southwest Minnesota, the National Weather Service said there could be half an inch of ice accumulations and winds up to 50 mph (80.46 kph).

The system also created hazardous wildfire conditions in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. An unusual but not rare weather phenomenon known as “thunder snow” — snow accompanied by thunder and lightning — was reported Wednesday in central South Dakota.

In addition to the immediate impacts, the storm threatened to swell rivers in the Midwest that flooded after March’s drenching, which caused billions of dollars in flood damage in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota. Forecasters aren’t expecting similar flooding this time around thanks to the absence of a wet snowpack on frozen ground.

But even moderate rises in the Missouri River will push more water ianto drenched Fremont County in southwestern Iowa, Emergency Manager Mike Crecelius said. Last month’s flooding swamped 455 houses and thousands of acres of farmland in his region.

“The problem is that we’re not getting any time for the water to recede and things to dry out, so the levees can’t be fixed; houses can’t be fixed; crops can’t be planted,” he said.

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Nicholson reported from Bismarck, North Dakota. Associated Press writers contributing to this report include Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Nelson Lampe in Omaha, Nebraska; and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee.

Source: Fox News National

The Latest on severe weather impacting the central U.S. (all times local):

10:45 a.m.

A blizzard has knocked out electricity to tens of thousands of people in the Northern Plains as a powerful storm system sweeps across the central U.S.

According to PowerOutage.us, 14,000 people and businesses are without power in Minnesota and the same number in South Dakota. Another 8,500 are in the dark in Iowa.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy spokesman Matt Lindstrom says the main culprit of Thursday’s outages is snow and ice accumulating on power lines, combined with strong winds.

Blizzard conditions in the region are expected to linger into early Friday. Lindstrom says crews are out working to restore power, and they’re used to dealing with bad weather conditions.

The blizzard is part of a storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” that’s slowly churning through the central U.S. for the second time in a month.

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6:45 a.m.

A powerful spring snow storm sweeping across the Midwest has made travel hazardous across Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

As much as 18 inches of snow has fallen in parts of South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem closed state offices in much of the state Thursday amid heavy snow and strong winds.

Whiteout conditions have been reported in western Nebraska, where the Department of Transportation reported several highway closures Thursday morning.

Schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul are among hundreds of closed schools in Minnesota, where as much as 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow is expected in the southwest part of the state by Friday. The Minnesota State Patrol says it has responded to more 200 crashes statewide since Wednesday.

The blizzard is part of a storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” that’s slowly churning through the central U.S. for the second time in a month.

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12 a.m.

A storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” churned through the U.S. interior for the second time in a month, unleashing a blizzard that struck the Upper Midwest and creating hazardous fire conditions farther south.

The storm knocked out power Wednesday to thousands of homes and businesses in South Dakota, disrupted air and ground travel from Colorado to Minnesota and threatened to swell rivers in the Midwest that flooded after March’s drenching.

National Weather Service Forecaster David Roth said both storms are what is known as a “bomb cyclone,” a weather phenomenon that entails a rapid drop in air pressure and a storm strengthening explosively.

Forecasters said this week’s storm will swell rivers again, though likely not to the levels seen last month.

Source: Fox News National

The Latest on severe weather impacting the central U.S. (all times local):

6:45 a.m.

A powerful spring snow storm sweeping across the Midwest has made travel hazardous across Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

As much as 18 inches of snow has fallen in parts of South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem closed state offices in much of the state Thursday amid heavy snow and strong winds.

Whiteout conditions have been reported in western Nebraska, where the Department of Transportation reported several highway closures Thursday morning.

Schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul are among hundreds of closed schools in Minnesota, where as much as 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow is expected in the southwest part of the state by Friday. The Minnesota State Patrol says it has responded to more 200 crashes statewide since Wednesday.

The blizzard is part of a storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” that’s slowly churning through the central U.S. for the second time in a month.

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12 a.m.

A storm system known as a “bomb cyclone” churned through the U.S. interior for the second time in a month, unleashing a blizzard that struck the Upper Midwest and creating hazardous fire conditions farther south.

The storm knocked out power Wednesday to thousands of homes and businesses in South Dakota, disrupted air and ground travel from Colorado to Minnesota and threatened to swell rivers in the Midwest that flooded after March’s drenching.

National Weather Service Forecaster David Roth said both storms are what is known as a “bomb cyclone,” a weather phenomenon that entails a rapid drop in air pressure and a storm strengthening explosively.

Forecasters said this week’s storm will swell rivers again, though likely not to the levels seen last month.

Source: Fox News National

The impoverished Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is bracing for another major winter storm and renewed flooding that is forecast for a wide swath of the Plains and Midwest.

The National Weather Service says the storm moving east out of the northern Rockies Wednesday and Thursday will pack heavy snow and strong winds. It could be similar to last month’s “bomb cyclone” — an unusual weather phenomenon marked by a rapid drop in air pressure.

The storm brings the specter of renewed flooding to areas where massive flooding over the past month has caused billions of dollars in damage.

But weather service officials say rivers aren’t likely to rise as much as last month, when there was still snow on the frozen ground and ice on the waterways.

Source: Fox News National

Hundreds of residents in the county hardest hit by Hurricane Michael are losing housing vouchers that allowed them to stay at hotels in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm.

Around 250 households in Bay County, Florida, are facing eviction from hotels Tuesday since their vouchers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program are ending.

The state of Florida has appealed the decision to end the vouchers and is asking for an extension of three more months.

Florida emergency management director Jared Moskowitz says denying the extension will increase the risk that residents will leave Bay County since there has been a shortage of housing in the six months since the storm blew ashore on the Florida Panhandle.

FEMA says the vouchers aren’t a long-term solution for residents.

Source: Fox News National

A Montana town evacuated for a wildfire one day has snow in the forecast two days later. Fire warnings have popped up across eastern Colorado. Areas that were paralyzed by blizzards and floods last month are getting ready for round two of a weather phenomenon known as a “bomb cyclone.”

Welcome to springtime in the Rockies and parts of the Great Plains.

Meteorologists say much of it is normal. But what is unusual is the second consecutive month for an inland bomb cyclone, which is a rapid drop in air pressure.

A March 13 bomb cyclone caused massive flooding and produced winds of between 96 and 110 mph.

A new one is expected to form this week over many of those same areas.

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Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington, D.C., and Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

The governor of Puerto Rico on Thursday reportedly vowed to take a stand, if necessary, against the White House amid recent discussions surrounding disaster aid for the U.S. island territory previously devastated by hurricanes.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s remarks came during an interview with CNN, after being asked whether it “sometimes” felt like he was “dealing with a bully.”

“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló said, adding that “it would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”

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The governor also told the network that the president treats Puerto Ricans “as second-class citizens.”

“And my consideration is, I just want to have the opportunity to explain to him why the data and information that he’s getting is wrong,” he said. “I don’t think getting into a kicking and screaming match with the president does any good. I don’t think anybody can beat the president on a kicking and screaming match.”

“I think that what I am aiming to do is making sure that reason prevails, that empathy prevails, that equality prevails and that we can have a discussion,” he continued.

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President Trump reportedly expressed his opposition this week to allotting further disaster aid to Puerto Rico, with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., saying the president told Republicans at a closed-door luncheon on Tuesday that aid for the territory "is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten."

Trump also told reporters on Thursday that Puerto Rico has been well-looked after under his leadership and claimed that $91 billion was allocated to the U.S. territory, a figure which he said was substantially more than what was set aside for Texas or Florida. It’s unclear how he arrived at the number.

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“Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being. And I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it,” he said.

“But you do have a mayor of San Juan that frankly doesn’t know what she’s doing. And the governor … they’ve got to spend the money wisely,” Trump continued. “They don’t know how to spend the money and they’re not spending it wisely. But I’m giving them more money than they’ve ever got, gotten.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics


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