Codes in Florida Panhandle made buildings vulnerable to Hurricane Michael

Less stringent codes in northern parts of state linked to devastation

October 23, 2018 |

Florida lawmakers and code policy officials have questioned the state’s approach to building codes in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

The Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of 155 mph, decimated coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle. Statewide codes have hurricane-resilient provisions, but they vary by region.

New office buildings and homes in Miami-Dade County must be designed to withstand winds around 175 mph. Along the stretch of the Panhandle hit hardest by Michael, though, the design standard varies from 120 mph to 150 mph.

In hard-hit Mexico Beach, some homes constructed under the latest code instituted in 2002 were destroyed. Code requirements have been based on storm history and the likelihood of future hurricanes striking a particular area. The Panhandle had seen few big storms since the 1800s, and Michael is the first known Category 4 hurricane to strike the region. Lawmakers and code officials now say codes may have to be strengthened in the northern part of the state.

Overlay Init