Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Hurricane Michael Weakens to Category 1 Storm

Hurricane Michael Weakens to Category 1 Storm

Warmer water acts as fuel for a hurricane, helping it develop into a more destructive, windier storm.

Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit.

Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph), was the most powerful storm to hit the southern U.S. state in more than a century. That's just 2 miles per hour away from officially being a Category 5 hurricane.

Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O'Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 10, 2018.

14 feet: The maximum height forecast for the storm surge when Michael's strong winds pushed the ocean water onto land. As a result, some parts of the state could see as much as a foot of rain from the storm, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

Horrifying aerial video recorded the devastating impact of Michael's passage on Panama City where the now-downgraded tropical storm sheared trees and twisted roofs.

See the latest from the Capital Weather Gang here and track the storm's path here.

President Donald Trump has been in touch with state governors and said a federal emergency team is standing by and ready to help with storm recovery.

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Never in recorded weather history has a hurricane hit the mainland United States at such a speed in October, the month marking the end of the June to November hurricane season.

Hurricane Michael has weakened to a Category 1 storm, but is still a unsafe rainmaker as it travels across Georgia.

Gen, Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been taken by surprise by the rapid escalation of the storm.

Winds gusts of around 60 miles per hour were reported in towns near the Georgia-Alabama border, according to the National Weather Service. Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in the area.

Scott, who expressed frustration earlier in the day about people ignoring evacuation orders, noted that the state has already spent close to $40 million on its response.

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, describing the scene outside as "very, very scary". "I'm asking all Floridians to stay vigilant throughout tonight and tomorrow as we brace for Hurricane Michael to make landfall".

Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Pensacola-based Gulf Power estimated that up to 225,000 of its customers could be impacted by the storm that pounded the Panhandle throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

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