"Michael" - the most powerful hurricane in the United States for 14 years

Cristina Cross
October 11, 2018

According to Stormwater Solutions, the storm is the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle and the strongest storm in the US this year. Michael thrashed Georgia as a hurricane and eventually weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday as it moved toward the Carolinas, soaking areas that got swamped last month by Hurricane Florence.

By 2 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT), the storm had pushed northeast to within 25 miles (40 km) of Greensboro, North Carolina, carrying 50-mph (85-kph) winds, the NHC said.

Pictures and video from Mexico Beach, a community of about 1,000 people where Michael made landfall around 1:00 pm Eastern time, showed scenes of devastation, with houses floating in flooded streets, some ripped from their foundations and missing roofs. Uprooted trees. Piles of rubble and debris everywhere. But it's still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, winds and a threat of spinoff tornadoes. The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left widespread destruction and wasn't finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, a region still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.

"Right now the focus is truly on life safety and making sure we are helping people who may be trapped", said Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As I like to say in my talks, "During hurricane season you have to have the weather for breakfast, lunch and dinner". Tornadoes, risky winds and more flooding are possible in numerous same areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel. She said she was in the home when it was blown apart and is thankful to be alive. "There was a tree involved".

The storm forced the closure of Interstate 10 west of Tallahassee, requiring some rescue crews to take alternate routes west from staging areas.

In addition, Gillum said the storm knocked out one of the city's sewage systems, including the backup power source.

"I just need to know he's OK", McCall said.

Local officials are warning that not almost enough people have evacuated as they would wish.

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A yellow warning for wind is in place for Northern Ireland from 3am on Friday morning until just before midnight on Friday night. It means southern parts of Wales especially are at risk of being flooded. "There could be localised flooding issues".

The extent of the damage was becoming clear on Thursday as AFP reporters and photographers toured affected areas and U.S. television networks flew helicopters along the coast.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned it was a "monstrous hurricane", and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Sen. That's enough to make it a strong Category 4 storm, but some meteorologists said that the storm's minimum central pressure of 919 millibars could make it a Category 5 storm.

Even experts were surprised by how quickly the hurricane picked up speed.

In its latest bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Michael had become "an extremely risky category 4 hurricane".

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in.

Asked why Mulligan's family didn't leave, she said she thought they were safe on the fourth floor of a concrete building.

600: Number of Florida state troopers assigned to the Panhandle and Big Bend region to assist with response and recovery efforts.

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

After initially maintaining hurricane strength while barreling inland through Georgia, Michael had weakened to tropic storm status by Thursday morning while churning northeast over SC with maximum winds of 50 miles per hour.

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