Hurricane Michael: Category four storm lashes Florida coast

Greg Lawrence
October 12, 2018

Hurricane Michael damaged the Florida Panhandle and crossed Georgia overnight with heavy winds.

"It was terrifying, honestly".

Jason Gunderson of the Cajun Navy said flooding and downed power lines made most streets impassible.

"Oh my God, what are we seeing?" said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open.

The storm, which caused a major disruption for oil and gas production in the gulf, had the potential to drive sea water levels as high as 14 feet (4.3 meters) above normal in some areas, the National Hurricane Center said.

Michael had weakened to a Category 1, with maximum winds of 90 miles per hour as of 8:00 pm Eastern time (0000 GMT), but that still left it an extremely unsafe storm. "There's flooding. Boats on the highway".

Mulligan and her family rode out Hurricane Michael in their Mexico Beach condo. "Houses that have been there forever are just shattered".

"One of my key concerns right now going into is that we haven't seen as robust of an evacuation response from the civilian population that we have seen in other storms", O'Shaughnessy said.

Michael is responsible for at least two deaths, including a man in Greensboro, Fla., who was killed when a tree fell through his home, according to a Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

Hurricane Michael also cut power to more than 200,000 people in the Florida Panhandle, including many who may not get it back for weeks.

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- Top winds: 155 miles per hour (250 kph), strong enough to completely destroy homes and cause weekslong power outages.

More than 370,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, but officials reckon many ignored the warning. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes. "The best thing I could do is fly them all up here, and they'd all be at my house".

Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992. "We sent the data to the National Hurricane Center and watched it go from a Category 1 to a Category 2 storm while we were fixing the center, and it appeared to be intensifying".

Michael, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, was the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit the Panhandle.

In Wakulla County, the sheriff's office made a list of people who chose to ride out the storm and will begin the process of checking on them Thursday, sheriff's captain Chris Savary said. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

Its sustained winds were just 3.2km/h shy of an extremely rare Category 5.

At a rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, Trump offered his "thoughts and prayers" to those in the path of the storm and said he would be visiting Florida soon.

Her biggest worry: finding her missing 1-year-old Siamese cat, Molly. Her power is gone and the full force the hurricane is about to hit.

"It feels like a nightmare", Mexico Beach Councilwoman Linda Albrecht said of the catastrophic damage in her town.

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