Hurricane Michael, the powerful Category 4 hurricane bearing down on Florida’s Gulf Coast this week, could cause tens of billions of dollars of damage to the region, according to AccuWeather estimates released Wednesday.
The storm is projected to cause roughly $30 billion in damage and lost economic productivity, the service said in a news release. Mobile homes and small houses could suffer “catastrophic damage” from sustained winds in excess of 130 miles per hour, while stronger homes may receive roof damage or other superficial, but costly destruction.
"Michael is predicted to come ashore in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm, with winds in excess of 130 mph Wednesday afternoon," AccuWeather Founder and President Joel N. Myers said. "The greatest impacts will be near and east of where the hurricane's eye makes landfall, and particularly along the coastline because of angry seas in a dangerous storm surge being driven inland by onshore winds."
AccuWeather projects a storm surge of 10 to 15 feet in some areas of the western Florida coast, as well as waves that could reach 30 feet in height. Residents of severely affected regions can expect downed trees and power outages lasting for days or weeks.
Myers said Hurricane Michael will likely be less destructive than Hurricane Florence, which caused an estimated $60 billion in overall damage and economic impact, because the storm is moving at a faster pace and will likely cause less inland flooding.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the hurricane is “the worst storm that the [Florida] Panhandle has seen in over a century” and warned residents who have not evacuated to shelter in place until it has passed.