Hurricane Michael was the thirteenth named storm and eighth hurricane of the 2000 Atlantic hurricane season. Michael formed out of a previously non-tropical area of low pressure that gained subtropical characteristics on October 15 over the western Atlantic Ocean, and then gained fully tropical characteristics on October 16. As Michael was becoming extratropical on October 19, it strengthened to reach its peak of 100 mph as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It made landfall in Newfoundland during the extratropical transition phase as a Category 1 hurricane, but thankfully, little damage occured since Michael hit a sparsely populated area of the country.
Michael caused no known damages, and no fatalities.
|Formation||October 15, 2000|
|Dissipation||October 20, 2000|
|Highest winds||100 mph|
|Lowest pressure||965 mbar|
Michael originated from a non-tropical cold-core upper-level low that drifted southward into the subtropics. The low interacted with a cold front that eventually redeveloped into a stationary front on October 10. As the cold low drifted to the south, a surface low developed on October 12. Until October 15, the low moved very little, remaining nearly stationary, but then it began to merge with the upper-level low and deepened while north of the Bahamas and east coast of Florida. On the morning of October 15, the system gained enough organization to be classified as a subtropical depression, located well east of Florida. After forming, the subtropical depression remained stationary over warm water as high as 83°F, while it continued to gain fully tropical characteristics and become a warm-cored system. On the evening of October 15, the depression strengthened into Subtropical Storm Michael after satellite classifications using the Hebert-Poteat technique showed a stronger storm. On October 16, Michael's organization continued, as more convection developed and persisted near the low-level circulation center. On the evening of October 16, the transition into a fully tropical system was now complete, and Michael was upgraded to a tropical storm as supported by satellite classifications via the Dvorak technique. Late in the evening of October 16, the National Hurricane Center issued the first advisory on Michael, and it was operationally classified as a tropical depression, but in post-season analysis, it was found to be a tropical storm from the start, rather than a tropical depression.
On October 17, a well-defined eye developed within Michael's center of circulation as Michael began to deepen at a more rapid rate. On the afternoon of October 17, Michael intensified further, and as confirmed by reconnaissance aircraft, which found surface winds of 75 mph. This caused the National Hurricane Center to upgrade Michael to a hurricane. At this point, Michael began to turn to the north. That evening, Michael leveled off in intensity as a minimal hurricane, and remained such into the morning of October 18, maintaining a ragged but well-defined eye while paralleling the Gulf Stream. On the afternoon of October 18, Michael strengthened to reach 85 mph winds and then weakened slightly that evening as it tracked into cooler water and began extratropical transition, while accelerating to the northeast towards Newfoundland. On the morning of October 19, Michael unexpectedly began to rapidly intensify while in extratropical transition, as a ship located in the eastern eyewall of the hurricane later that afternoon reported a minimum central pressure of 965 mb and sustained surface winds of 100 mph, prompting the National Hurricane Center to upgrade Michael to a Category 2 hurricane.
The sudden burst of intensification is believed to have been the result of baroclinic effects as Michael interacted with an approaching trough that provided additional energy to counter the weakening of hurricanes while in higher latitudes over cold water temperatures of around 60°F. Such formed a "hybrid" system combining influences of a hurricane with that of a powerful extratropical cyclone. Late on the afternoon of October 19, Michael became extratropical as it was making landfall near Harbour Breton, Newfoundland, as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds. Michael's extratropical remnants gradually weakened as they tracked across Newfoundland on October 20, and slowed down considerably with the presence of the trough. The storm was absorbed by another extratropical low just north of Newfoundland later that day.
Michael caused light to moderate damage in Newfoundland, entirely due to strong winds, which were reported throughout the country. Several small communities, including Gaultois, Harbour Breton, Hermitage and English Harbour West reported widespread power outages as well as minor structural damage. The most significant damage was in Gualtois where several roofs were peeled off of buildings, and trees became uprooted. Also, sporadic power outages were reported throughout the island. The relatively light damage for a storm with 85 mph sustained winds and 105 mph wind gusts (only slightly weaker than Hurricane Juan of 2003) was the result of high constructions standards in Newfoundland, where winter storms frequently bring hurricane-force winds. In addition, the sparsely populated land area played a role in little damage from Michael, despite it being as powerful as it was. Michael caused no injuries and no fatalities in Newfoundland.
The most significant maritime impacts from Michael were rough seas. The Atlantic Elm tug lost its tow to the unmanned barge Portland Star on the evening of October 19. The barge was carrying over 18,000 tons of cement and diesel fuel, but unfortunately, it sunk. Around Fortune Bay, damage was reported to numerous ships because of high waves. Also, ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia was disrupted by Michael. Because Michael arrived at low tide, it produed very little storm surge and no damage. Also, because of Michael's fast movement through the country, little rainfall was reported and no inland flooding was reported from the storm.
Radar image of Hurricane Michael over Newfoundland.
Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in Newfoundland since Hurricane Luis of 1995. When the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) and the National Research Council (NRC) flew a Convair research flight into Michael on October 19, it was also the first successful research flight made into a tropical cyclone by those agencies. Subsequent flights since then have been made into Hurricane Karen, Hurricane Isabel (while it was inland), Hurricane Juan, and Hurricane Ophelia.
Lack of Retirement
Because damage was minimal, the name Michael was not retired in the Spring of 2001 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was not used during the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.