Hurricane Michael: 'Monstrous' storm strengthens to category two

Hurricane Michael: 'Monstrous' storm strengthens to category two

Hurricane Michael: 'Monstrous' storm strengthens to category two

Besides heavy rains and strong winds, the system is expected to create flash flooding and life-threatening storm surges across the Panhandle and Big Bend region.

Thomas, a 50-year-old air conditioning repairman, plans to defy an evacuation order and ride out the monster storm in an apartment that's just a few hundred yards from the beach and even closer to the tea-colored Grand Lagoon, which was slowly rising early Wednesday as the massive Category 4 storm pushed ocean water toward the coast of the Florida Panhandle.

A child was killed in Seminole County, Georgia during the storm, emergency management officials said.

The storm's intensity waned steadily as it pushed inland and curled northeasterly into Georgia after dark. "It doesn't make landfall any better, but at least you know what to expect and when to expect it".

On its current track, the core of Michael is expected to move northeastward across the southeastern USA on Wednesday night and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month.

Forecasters said parts of the Panhandle and Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see 9 to 13 feet of storm surge.

This may be the worst storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in 100 years. Rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimetres), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 metres).

A video posted on Twitter showed winds ripping apart a house on Mexico Beach, its debris washing up to adjacent properties.

Al Hancock, 45, who works on a tour boat, survived in Panama City with his wife and dog.

"My God, it's scary".

"I think everybody moved out", he said.

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Without power, the city was plunged into darkness at nightfall and its flooded streets were mostly silent and devoid of people or traffic. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

While the county shouldn't get an overwhelming amount of rain, Hofstad said that because the area had experienced a wet summer and early fall the combination of high wind and rain would probably down trees, dropping them on power lines and into road ways from which they'll have to be cleared. The fate of about 280 residents who authorities said defied evacuation orders was unknown. Wind damage was also evident.

Michael will make landfall with a direct hit on Panama City.

Some 120,000 people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.

"This is going to have structure-damaging winds along the coast and hurricane force winds inland".

There are presently 119 people in a shelter at the north end of the county and 200 in the south end, Saul said.

Scott's descriptors of "monstrous" and "absolutely deadly" rang loudly throughout the Panhandle - but Shiver said she had additional priorities. "This happened so quickly", he said.

Michael Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, called the hurricane a "history-making, very devastating storm and one that we're never going to forget".

"Satellite images of Michael's evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-dropping", wrote Bob Henson, a meteorologist with weather site Weather Underground.

Scott said the state is ready to respond once the storm passes, with 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard activated and more than 1,000 state forestry and wildlife officers prepared for search-and-rescue operations. Only the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys and Hurricane Camille in 1969 were stronger.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

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