Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Michael slams into Florida, charges into Southeast


Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, stripped away leaves, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles.

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

At least one person is dead and hundreds of thousands of homes are without power after Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon with 155 miles per hour winds.

Rick Reichmuth, Fox News' chief meteorologist, said Michael was the fourth most powerful storm to ever make landfall in the U.S.in terms of wind, and the third most powerful in terms of pressure, at 919 mb.

Panama City looked like a war zone after being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains. "It's going to be incredibly catastrophic".

Severe flooding, structural building damage, uprooted trees and downed power lines appeared widespread in coastal areas near where the storm made landfall.

A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category 4 monster packing 250 km/h winds. That's just 2 miles per hour away from officially being a Category 5 hurricane. Up to a foot of rainfall was forecast for some areas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence's flooding.

The hurricane was expected to gradually weaken as it passed over the southeastern United States, the hurricane center said.

Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O'Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 10, 2018.

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An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate.

Michael is likely to dump heavy rain over Florida, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders.

"This happened so quickly, we weren't exactly prepared", he said.

"If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly", he said.

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

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

Past year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equalling US$125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. Hurricanes form over the Atlantic and North Pacific oceans and cause most damage to the Americas while typhoons form in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, impacting Asia.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires.

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