Hurricane Michael causes 'unimaginable destruction' to Florida

  • Hurricane Michael causes 'unimaginable destruction' to Florida

Hurricane Michael causes 'unimaginable destruction' to Florida

The storm made landfall near Mexico Beach, with wind speeds reaching 155 miles per hour (249 kph) - just shy of a Category 5 hurricane. The storm's maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) and it was moving to the northeast at 21 miles per hour (33 kph).

EMILY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Hurricane Michael will likely make landfall along the Gulf Coast today as a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. Uprooted trees. Piles of rubble and debris everywhere.

After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets.

The entire Florida Panhandle is under a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning.

Briefing President Donald Trump at the White House, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since 1851.

SCOTT: That means the water will come miles inshore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses.

Storm surge is also inundating some areas along the Panhandle. She said she was in the home when it was blown apart and is thankful to be alive.

Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, said there was "one hurricane-related fatality", adding that the incident was "debris-related".

Smith could not provide details on the victim.

The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.

General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.

People in the crosshairs had to make last-minute preparations for the monstrous storm's arrival - and for how to cope in its aftermath.

"Where that becomes a factor is with the evacuation of some of the local populations", he said. The base had been evacuated before the storm and no injuries were reported.

P.S. Hurricane Michael is an extremely risky storm.

Michael is expected to leave the mainland United States by Friday morning. It warned of life-threatening storm surges, hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall. "A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported over 7.7 feet of inundation above ground level", the Hurricane Center said.

"Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events".

Forecasters have warned heavy rain could spark the same kind of life-threatening flash flooding in the Big Bend, Panhandle, Georgia and SC and have continued to warn Michael's storm surge is the most serious threat to the coast as the bend in the coastline traps destructive waves.

"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.

- Rescued: 47 helped out of hard-hit areas along Florida's coastline, and 20 people in flooded neighborhoods in North Carolina.

"Tropical storm wind gusts will continue across much of SC and central and eastern North Carolina, with sustained tropical storm force winds expected along the coast of the Carolinas", the agency said.

1 P.M. The 1 p.m. advisory on Hurricane Michael is out, and not much has changed from the previous report. As it moves inland, it is forecast to drop heavy rain later this week in the Carolinas where residents are still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Past year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

"The damage to our infrastructure is the most widespread and severe we've ever experienced", city officials wrote in a tweet.