Hurricane Michael Downgraded To Tropical Storm After Battering Florida Panhandle

  • Hurricane Michael Downgraded To Tropical Storm After Battering Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael Downgraded To Tropical Storm After Battering Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in more than 80 years and the third-most powerful ever to strike the US mainland, battered the state's Gulf coast on Wednesday with roof-shredding winds, raging surf and torrential rains.

"The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no category four hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".

By late Wednesday, the storm had moved toward Georgia.

Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightowers said they received a call at 6pm local time (11pm BST). It's left hundreds of thousands of people without power and an untold number of people homeless.

Human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association.

Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

In the hours and days ahead, the storm is expected to take a largely easterly course, pushing up through Georgia and the Carolinas before eventually making its way back out to sea sometime after Thursday evening.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Michael will stay a powerful and unsafe rainmaker as it moves across the U.S. Southeast and off the Mid-Atlantic coast before heading out to sea by Friday.

Authorities said at least one person has died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home. Sgt. Angela Hightower did not identify the man but said he had been found at the home in Greensboro around 6 p.m.

A resident of St. Marks, Fla., rescues a cooler out of the floodwaters near his home on Wednesday.

Michael is moving across southwestern Georgia with damaging winds across the central and eastern Panhandle of Florida as well as southwestern and south-central Georgia, with storm flooding still occurring along the Gulf Coast, the NHC said.

Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia issued an emergency declaration for 92 counties in the southern part of that state.

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.

Panama City looked like a war zone after being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains. Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain.

Trees and wires are down throughout Florida Gulf Coast towns.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (75 kilometers) from Michael's center.

Myrtle Beach, which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Florence, is predicted to experience 46 miles per hour winds - the most powerful gusts in the Palmetto State. However, even at a lower category, the storm will pose a major threat. Forecasters said rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimeters), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 meters).

There has been only one storm with higher sustained wind speeds this far north in the Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane Camille in 1969.