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Monster Hurricane Michael brings 'unimaginable devastation' as it slams Florida

11 October 2018, 05:28 | Ross Houston

Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Bo Lynn's Market starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks on Oct. 10

Bo Lynn's Market starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks on Oct. 10

Recording the storm's landfall in Panama City Beach, The Associated Press's John Mone watched as the awning of the hotel he was sheltering in was ripped off by the severe winds.

"Unsafe hurricane-force winds will also extend well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland", the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday morning.

Michael has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it slams Georgia with heavy rain and risky winds and heads toward the storm-weary Carolinas.

Looking at the entire hurricane season, Michael had the strongest winds since 1992 and Hurricane Andrew.

"It really started as a tropical storm, and then it went to Category 1, then it was Category 2 and before you know it, it was Category 4", O'Shaughnessy said. But the fast-moving, fast-strengthening storm didn't give people much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

A hurricane warning was in place from the Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Suwannee River and a tropical storm warning was in effect for north of Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Duck, N.C., and Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

Tornado watches were issued overnight for upstate SC counties including Chester, Union and York, just south of Charlotte.

At least two people are now confirmed dead in one of the strongest storms on record to hit the mainland US-and some communities hit by Hurricane Michael are now unrecognizable.

At 5 a.m., the major hurricane was holding maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.

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"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Centre Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.

Michael is moving north at 13 mph, now 90 miles southwest of Panama City.

Exploding overnight from 120 mph to 140 mph maximum sustained winds, Hurricane Michael developed into a powerful Category 4 hurricane that's now just hours from landfall on the Florida Panhandle. Expected landfall is mid-afternoon. But hurricanes can also be measured by their barometric pressure: generally speaking, the lower the pressure, the more intense the storm.

Downed powerlines are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. Wind speeds in the 7 a.m. report also remained at 140 miles per hour.

"Going back through records to 1851 we can't find another Cat 4 in this area, so this is unfortunately a historical and incredibly unsafe and life-threatening situation", he said.

Hurricane Michael was barely a hurricane Tuesday morning local time, with winds of 90mph (145km/h). It's expected to bring tornadoes, rainfall and unprecedented wind damage along its path.

As Michael exploded in power overnight, the expected inland effect of the storm became more expansive.

It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches (101 centimeters) of rain. The core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning.



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