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Monitoring storm tide from Hurricane Michael along the northwest coast of Florida, October 2018

June 17, 2019

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, with maximum sustained winds over 160 miles per hour, on October 10, 2018. The maximum recorded storm tide was 15.55 feet above the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88). The elevation of the maximum high-water mark, found in Port St. Joe, Florida, exceeded 20 feet above NAVD 88. The storm tide and winds destroyed much of the tourist town of Mexico Beach and caused extensive damage to the surrounding communities, including Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, and Cape San Blas, Fla.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida Division of Emergency Management, deployed a temporary monitoring network of water-level and barometric pressure sensors at 34 sites along the northwest coast of Florida to record the timing, areal extent, and magnitude of hurricane storm tide generated by Hurricane Michael. A total of 522 high-water marks were recovered and surveyed from 331 sites from Seaside, Fla. to Cedar Key, Fla. The USGS, in cooperation with Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida Division of Emergency Management, displays real-time water-level data from long-term USGS streamflow stations, rapid deployment gages and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide-gage stations, updated hourly (or, in some cases, more frequently), through satellite telemetry, on the USGS Flood Event Viewer (https://stn.wim.usgs.gov/FEV/#Michael2018).