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

One dead as monstrous Hurricane Michael tears into Florida

One dead as monstrous Hurricane Michael tears into Florida

The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. The intense Category 4 hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour when it crashed ashore near Mexico Beach, a lightly populated tourist town about midway along the Panhandle.

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 risky storm.

Governor Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency for 92 of the state's 152 counties ahead of Hurricane Michael's arrival this week.

Twenty miles (32 km) south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 7 feet (2.1 meters) deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said.

The two people killed in the storm were a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

While Florence wrung itself out for days and brought ruinous rains, fast-moving Michael is likely to be more about wind and storm surge.

A monstrous storm that sprang from nowhere is now threatening the Florida Panhandle.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel. "There was a tree involved".

People in areas that could be affected should take no chances against such a powerful surge, Scott said, adding, "No one's going to survive", such a wall of water.

General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.

"Where that becomes a factor is with the evacuation of some of the local populations", he said.

Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore.

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In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades. It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle.

More than 370,000 people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate and move to higher ground.

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders.

"The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Michael".

The National Hurricane Center further expects tropical storm conditions to spread northward along the southeast USA coast through Friday.

"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on Wednesday and Thursday ploughing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

How many people have died?

State officials issued disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia and the storm is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to North and SC.

It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches (101 centimeters) of rain. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water' and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.

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