Hurricane leaves trail of devastation in Florida

Hurricane leaves trail of devastation in Florida

Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.

In 2016, Hurricane Matthew, which caused the deaths of almost 600 people in Haiti, quickly grew to a Category 5 storm with sustained winds up 165 miles an hour because of rapid intensification. The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least one person dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.

Scott had earlier said the hurricane would bring "unimaginable devastation" and said he was "scared to death" for those who ignored evacuation orders.

Michael has killed at least a dozen people in Central America and a man was killed in Florida by a falling tree last night, according to authorities.

There has been only one storm with higher sustained wind speeds this far north in the Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane Camille in 1969.

Michael's conditions are similar to those of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas a year ago as a Category 4 storm that packed 130 miles per hour winds and left 68 people dead. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine. There is no doubt that portions of the Florida Panhandle will be destroyed.

"We're sending them out now", Scott said.

Television news footage earlier in the day showed floodwaters up to the roofs of many homes in Mexico Beach.

Bo Patterson, the mayor of Port St. Joe, just south of Mexico Beach, rode out the storm in his house seven blocks from the beach.

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

About 30km south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 2.3m deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said.

The governor didn't wait for damage assessments before seeking federal assistance from President Donald Trump for 14 counties: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.

Massive power outages are expected in areas of Alabama, where Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency. Up to a foot of rainfall was forecast for some areas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence's flooding.

According to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael's eyewall was strengthening as it maintained maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

Benson also posted a clip of the storm's winds picking up a portable toilet and sending it flying across a parking lot.

When it made landfall Wednesday afternoon, it was blowing at 155mph (250km/h).

Michael's strength may reflect the effect of climate change on storms.

The water was 2.2C to 2.8C (4F to 5F) warmer than normal, and high atmosphere winds that can disrupt a hurricane were quiet.

Another key element to the strength of the storm is its minimum central pressure dropped again, this time to 931 millibars, meaning the eye of the storm is strong, intact and well-defined.

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