Hurricane Michael weakens into a tropical storm over central Georgia

Katie Ramirez
October 11, 2018

Hurricane Michael is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the USA, and the proof is strewn across miles of Florida's coastline: Roofs and awnings peeled from buildings, pieces of homes scattered amid snapped trees and downed power lines, chunks of beaches washed away.

An unidentified man in the Florida Panhandle was killed by a fallen tree when it ripped through his home's roof, a spokeswoman for the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office told Fox News.

In terms of wind speed, Michael is the fourth strongest storm ever to hit the U.S. after Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969 and an unnamed Labor Day Hurricane in 1935. And on Wednesday afternoon, it slammed into the Florida coast as a major Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour ― just 2 miles per hour shy of Category 5 strength.

It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida.

"It swamped streets, bent trees, stripped away limbs and leaves, knocked out power, shredded awnings and sent other building debris flying".

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

A restaurant fixture known as "Big Gus" is seen damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach. "It's unlivable. It's heartbreaking".

Before the storm made landfall, Scott said he activated 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard.

State officials issued disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia and the storm is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to North and SC. Some of those areas are still working to recover from Hurricane Florence.

By 8 a.m. ET, Michael's eye was about 40 miles west-northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, packing top winds of 50 mph and moving at 21 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Up to 30cm of rain was forecast in Florida.

ABC News' Chief meteorologist Ginger Zee posted the following photo from Mexico Beach.

"My God, it's scary". She said she could smell the pine from snapped tree branches.

Trump jokes about impeachment on the campaign trail
But the Republican Party had an 80 per cent chance of retaining its majority in the Senate. Maxine Waters (D-CA) openly encouraging confrontation in public spaces with Republicans .

In the case of Michael the damage will be mainly from wind rather than rain.

"There are so many downed power lines and trees that it's nearly impossible to get through the city", Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said.

"Hurricane Michael is a deadly Category 4 storm".

Its collision with the Florida coast so far has been stunning and violent.

"I can not disappoint the thousands of people that are there - and the thousands that are going", he tweeted.

Despite warnings and forecasts of destructive conditions, many residents made a decision to stay. "Things happen to even the most experienced chasers", said Rachael Adair.

FEMA head Brock Long acknowledged that early evacuation efforts in the area were slow in comparison to how quickly the hurricane intensified.

Since making landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday, Michael has left thousands of people without power, turned homes and marinas into rubble and killed at least 2 people.

Looking at the entire hurricane season, Michael had the strongest winds since 1992 and Hurricane Andrew.

As the hurricane, downgraded to a category-3 storm, moved into Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday evening, Florida Governor Rick Scott urged locals to stay inside and off the roads, as rescuers were on their way to the most heavy-hit areas.

The Pentagon said it had pre-positioned more than 2,200 active-duty military personnel, along with helicopters, high-water vehicles and swift-water boats for deployment as needed.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER