What would Michael's damage look like in Jacksonville Beach?

Before and after images of storm-ravaged Panhandle show boats pushed into forest

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - With a few clicks on the computer, many Floridians found out on Friday they're homeless after Hurricane Michael reduced their homes to rubble.

Aerial photos taken by NOAA'S Office of Response and Restoration and posted online show before and after snapshots of the storm-ravaged Florida Panhandle.

They also paint an alarming picture of what could happen should Jacksonville's beach communities ever meet a storm of Michael's magnitude.

Access to the barrier islands along the Panhandle is limited, but these images give an unvarnished look at the few buildings still standing -- and provide a source of hope for some evacuees.

But most will have no home to go back to, since the photos show nearly the entire peninsula on Mexico Beach wiped clean near the canal leading into the marina.

Viewers can zoom in on areas farther west toward Tyndall Air Force Base, which saw less storm surge. Shredded hangars, upended planes and debris-littered runways are visible from above.

Boats have been driven more than 1,000 feet from their moors and docks into a pine forest behind the Mexico Beach Boat ramp. The town pier? Decimated.

Meteorologist Mark Collins puts the damage into perspective, saying a hurricane like Michael on the First Coast would push the Atlantic nearly a mile inland.

Superimposing the aerial damage on Jacksonville Beach shows those boats would have been pushed as far as Penman Road, and buildings just past 3rd Street would be wiped out like in Bay County.

Superimposed reorientated photo of Michael's damage on Jacksonville Beach reaching to Penman Road.

A similar storm hitting Jacksonville Beach could result in comparable damage, but surge would be slightly less due to deeper coastal profile and a higher dune profile than that of Mexico Beach.

On Thursday, the National Geodetic Survey began surveying damage twice daily from Mobile Bay to St. George Island, Florida, and over Panama City. 

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