When it made landfall about midday in the Florida Panhandle, the Michael was packing 155 miles per hour winds, 2 miles per hour shy of a Category 5 storm.
The rapid increase in Michael's force came because of a phenomenon that meteorologists call "rapid intensification", which the National Hurricane Center defines as an increase in sustained wind speeds of at least 35 miles per hour in one day.
In any case, no matter how you measure it, Michael is among the most powerful hurricanes in recent memory along with Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992 and Katrina in 2005.
Last Thursday, forecasters were saying that what was then called Tropical Storm Michael "does not pose a threat to land".
"You can't drive a auto anywhere, you can't do anything because it's littered with houses, pieces of houses", Patricia Mulligan of Mexico Beach told the Times. And she estimated that it would take the same amount of time to fix the damage - possibly months or even a year.More news: USA markets drop sharply as investors are spooked by rising rates
"Hurricane Michael is a deadly Category 4 storm".
In terms of damage the most costly year was 2017, when besides the Caribbean several U.S. coastal states were hit by powerful hurricanes that moved slowly and dumped record rainful for days.
"We are catching some hell" was how a Panama City Beach resident who chose to ride it out described Michael as it made landfall.
The drone footage also shows other buildings affected by the hurricane, including what appears to be a portion of a shopping mall collapsed on itself.More news: Korea, Russia call for "review" of UNSC sanctions in joint communiqué
Numerous buildings in Panama City were demolished or left without roofs amid deserted streets littered with debris, twisted, fallen tree trunks and dangling wires.
A hurricane warning remains in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida.
The latest update from the NHC cites still Category 3 sustained winds and at this time hurricane Michael is moving towards Georgia, which is unusual but due to the late intensification and fast movement of the storm not entirely unexpected.
More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were warned to evacuate, and the hurricane's leading edge sent storm surge into neighbourhoods as it approached.
Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas, as well as southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia. Cedar Key to Chassahowitzka could see storm surge topping out between 4 feet to 6 feet. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate. "And this one is going to end up potentially causing more loss of life and damage than a storm like Irma". There's evidence of higher sea surface temperature and atmospheric moisture, experts say. The hotter an ocean is and the deeper its warm water goes the more intense a hurricane can get, Masters explained. Storm surge is worse now than it was 100 years ago, thanks to the rise in sea levels.More news: White House: More talks with Saudi crown prince
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