Michael Charges into Southeast after Slamming North Florida

Storm clouds form before Hurricane Michael comes ashore

Storm clouds form before Hurricane Michael comes ashore

Michael, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, was the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit the Panhandle.

"While we will not see the full force of Hurricane Michael the way Florida will, we could see gusty winds, rain, flash flooding and even tornadoes", South Carolina Emergency Management Director Kim Stenson told CNN affiliate WACH.

Unusually warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico turbo-charged the storm from a tropical depression on Sunday.

Though wind speed is the basis for hurricane categories, central pressure is actually a better measure of damage that a hurricane will cause, a study published previous year in the journal Nature Communications found.

There has never been a Category 4 storm make landfall along the Panhandle and Michael just missed the Category 5 threshold of 157 miles per hour as it arrived near Mexico Beach.

Prior to making landfall in the US, flooding from Michael had already led to at least 13 deaths in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

Around 375,000 people were under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders across 18 counties in Florida in preparation of the storm, and a state of emergency had been declared in 35 counties prior to the storm making landfall.

Hurricane Michael wound up causing massive damage, and it may not be done yet.

"We are in new territory", Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.

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The hurricane, the fiercest to hit Florida in 80 years, pummeled communities across the Panhandle and turned streets into roof-high waterways.

CNN journalist Brooke Baldwin was left aghast at what little was left of Mexico Beach, Florida, as she viewed from a helicopter the devastation of the Florida Panhandle from Hurricane Michael, the third-most powerful hurricane to hit the USA mainland in recorded history. Authorities said that 285 people in the city refused to leave. A few houses and other structures remain standing, but they're the exceptions.

The US National Hurricane Centre said the core of the storm would push through southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia on Wednesday evening (Thursday afternoon NZT).

Cleanup is just beginning in Marianna, Florida as winds and driving rain from Hurricane Michael finally recede, but it could take weeks.

The storm made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, at around 2 p.m. ET. "Roads are not open and you will not be able to get home if you live in or near the coast", the governor said Thursday morning.

At 1am GMT, maximum sustained winds decreased to 90mph with higher gusts, the NHC said in a bulletin.

Michael is making its way northeast toward Georgia and the Carolinas at about 14 miles per hour (22.5 km/h). The utility said some of the outages from Michael "could last several days" and anticipated as many as half a million outages across the Carolinas.

Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said Michael is "unfortunately, a historical and incredibly unsafe and life-threatening situation".

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