Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 250km/h (155mph), was the most powerful storm to hit the state's northern Panhandle area in more than a century. It is the fourth strongest on record, and nothing this ferocious has ever hit the Panhandle.
See the latest from the Capital Weather Gang here and track the storm's path here. A man in Greensboro, Florida, was killed when a tree fell on his house, a spokesperson for the Gadsden County sheriff said.
The storm, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall north-west of the town of Mexico Beach at about 1:40 pm (local time) as a category four hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.
This video, taken by Aaron Rigsby of Live Storms Media, was shot today as Hurricane Michael hit the coast.
O'Shaughnessy said 2,216 active duty personnel had been pre-positioned ahead of the storm, along with 32 helicopters, 240 high-water vehicles and 32 swift water boats.
A resident of St. Marks, Fla., rescues a cooler out of the floodwaters near his home on Wednesday.More news: Kericho accident updates: Death toll hits 50
The US Air Force shuttered a command-and-control center as Hurricane Michael tore into the Florida coast, a top general said Wednesday, as the military mobilized thousands of troops to help tackle the monster storm's impact.
Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia issued an emergency declaration for 92 counties in the southern part of that state.
An estimated 6,000 evacuees took cover in emergency shelters, a lot of them in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week's end, Kieserman said. It was a relatively calm year except for hurricanes Michael and Florence last month.
FEMA head Brock Long acknowledged that early evacuation efforts in the area were slow in comparison to how quickly the hurricane intensified.
The storm was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall and slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 miles per hour Wednesday.More news: USA markets drop sharply as investors are spooked by rising rates
It appeared to be so powerful that it was expected to remain a hurricane as it moved into Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.
Michael is the strongest hurricane in terms of wind speed to strike the USA mainland since Hurricane Andrew.
Central pressure is the measure of how much the atmosphere in the middle of a storm weighs. Lower central pressure indicates a stronger storm.
"In some sense it's a matter of chance that a hurricane happens to hit land just when it's peaking like this one", he said. Storm surge is going to be the worse where eye makes landfall - just to the east or south of where the eye makes landfall... Its sustained winds were just 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) shy of being an extremely rare Category 5.
There has been only one storm with higher sustained wind speeds this far north in the Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane Camille in 1969.More news: Hillary, Bill Clinton To Make 13 Joint Appearances, Including At The Forum
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