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Hurricane Michael rips through Florida's Panhandle

11 October 2018

Downgraded to a tropical storm over south Georgia, it was weakening by the hour.

Low barometric pressure increases a storm's intensity, and the barometric pressure within Hurricane Michael early Wednesday was just 925 millibars.

In South Carolina, emergency management officials were continuing to monitor to the storm in anticipation of "heavy rain, gusty winds, possible tornadoes" and other hazards. A quarter of a million homes and businesses already were without power, and the number was rising rapidly. "Thousands of trees gave way to the tropical storm force winds".

By 12 a.m. EDT Thursday, the storm's winds had dropped to tropical storm strength with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and it was moving northeast at 17 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said a hurricane "of this strength has NEVER made landfall in this region and thus this is an event that will have unprecedented impacts".

Everyone in hurricane and storm surge warning zones should prepare for life-threatening winds, the NHC said.

Meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.

Scott had phone calls scheduled with President Donald Trump, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA administrator Brock Long, and said the federal government is "committed" to sending as much assistance as the state requires.

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Hurricane Michael is forecast to deliver catastrophic damage to Gulf County in the Panhandle of Florida, Southern Bay County in the Panhandle of Florida and Southwestern Franklin County in the Big Bend of are of Florida. Graham said storm surge will inundate the Aucilla River there to a point where it will "flow backward".

Harvey and Michael didn't strengthen quite so much, so fast, but they rapidly intensified in the crucial hours before making their final continental USA landfalls. The wind howled and rainwater leaked through the ceiling.

Authorities said a falling tree killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home.

Entire blocks of homes near the beach were obliterated, reduced to nothing but concrete slabs in the sand. "You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Scott said.

"Those who stick around to witness storm surge don't typically live to talk about it", he said.

Here is the storm's latest forecast bubble ...

He also became the first major hurricane of category 3 or higher that hit Florida after hurricane Dennis in 2005. "If you are in an inland county you might have one more chance to evacuate, but only if local officials say it is safe".

The top priority over the next few days is search and rescue, authorities said. The Florida National Guard has over 4,000 more Guard members available for deployment, Scott said.

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The internet is bringing us an even better glimpse into what's happening with Hurricane Michael.

In Panama City, a train was blown off its tracks, a scene reminiscent of the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that struck the Keys.

It appeared to be so powerful that it remained a hurricane as it moved into south Georgia early Thursday.

Gale and James Berry fled to a city shelter in Lincoln High School's cafeteria.

Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale when it came ashore as the fiercest hurricane to hit Florida in 80 years.

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore.

In the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, population 2,500, Sally Crown planned to go home and hunker down with her two dogs. According to various local electrical providers, more than 800,000 homes have lost power in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and SC as a result of the storm.

By 8 a.m., winds had slowed to 50 mph as Michael crossed SC, about 40 miles west of Columbia, The storm had picked up speed to a fast 21 mph and should continue weakening.

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Bacon and Rice reported from Mclean, Va.

Hurricane Michael rips through Florida's Panhandle