Hurricane Michael threatens Florida with 150mph winds

Roads were filled with piles of floating debris.

Hurricane Michael's battering waves swamped streets and docks and shrieking winds splintered trees and rooftops.

Hurricane Michael has killed one person in northern Florida - the first confirmed death from the powerful storm.

Hurricane center Director Ken Graham said on Facebook that Michael would be the worst storm in recorded history to hit the Panhandle.

Michael was forecast to bring a storm surge up to 14 feet (4.3 metres) in some areas.

"Water will come miles in shore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses".

A lone U.S. flag attached to an offshore tower became an icon when it starred in a live-cam feed during Hurricane Florence in September.

A Red Cross official said it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.

According to Florida Power and Light, roughly 400 customers in Columbia County were without power after Michael made landfall, but power was restored within an hour. Smith said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel.

"Water will come miles in shore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses", he said. Add Hurricane Michael as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Michael news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Smith could not provide details on the victim. Then the remains of the storm will rapidly travel across the ocean toward Ireland.

The storm's maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were 155 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category 4 monster packing 250 km/h winds.

"Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events. Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning in 66 counties.

"This happened so quickly, we weren't exactly prepared", he said.

But many people living in counties farther east in North Central Florida were spared.

"I think that if people are comparing storms, what was really fascinating was that it was still intensifying when it was making landfall, which is similar to Hurricane Camille also intensifying as it moved inland", says AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

Major cities such as Houston were flooded, causing as much as $300 billion in damage, according to estimates.

Live footage from the International Space Station posted to Twitter by NASA showed the enormity of Michael's reach as it made landfall.

A year ago saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equalling US$125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. Florida Governor Rick Scott called for residents along the coast to seek refuge immediately.

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