Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Michael crushes Georgia, heads toward Carolinas

Hurricane Michael crushes Georgia, heads toward Carolinas

"The wind was really tearing us apart", said retiree Tom Garcia, 60, who was trapped inside his Mexico Beach home as water poured in to waist height.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the core of Michael will move across central and eastern Georgia Thursday morning, and then over southern and central SC later in the day.

"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert", Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Hurricane Michael - now classified as a tropical storm - made landfall in Florida about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, but the vast scope of the damage is still now only beginning to come into sharp focus on Thursday.

Officials said more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida and Governor Scott said almost 20,000 utility workers had been deployed to restore power.

13WMAZ viewer Katie Robinson sent us photos of downed trees and power lines along Highway 128 between Roberta and Reynolds, the area near where Sharon says a tornado touched down.

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Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore.

For the big tourist destinations of Panama City Beach, Destin and Fort Walton, it could be months before they are back on an even keel as the hurricane destroyed homes, businesses and resorts, uprooted thousands of trees, and tore down power lines across the region. Entire roofs were torn away and dropped onto a road.

A day after the storm hit, Mexico Beach remained very hard to reach, with roads covered by fallen trees, power lines and other storm debris.

The level of outages following Michael are similar to when Hurricane Irma struck Florida previous year. A few blocks inland, about half the homes were reduced to piles of wood and siding and those still standing had suffered heavy damage. Hundreds of cars had broken windows, many turned askew by the wind. Homes were split open by fallen trees. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 6 meters high. But it moved so fast and intensified so quickly that people didn't have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings.

With a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of a hurricane's force, Michael was the third strongest storm on record to hit the continental United States, behind only Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the unnamed Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

The storm's maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour and it was moving to the northeast at 21 miles per hour.

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