Hurricane Michael rips through Florida's Panhandle

Hurricane Michael's Winds Reach 150 mph, First Ever Extreme Wind Warning Issued for Region |

From there, it is projected to remain a tropical storm as it continues eastward across the Atlantic Ocean.

At landfall, it was almost a Category 5 storm that smashed records as the strongest ever to roar onto the state's exposed Panhandle. But it's still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, winds and a threat of spinoff tornadoes. A neighbor told McCall that all the docks in the area were destroyed and many people are stuck in their homes as the roads have been blocked with debris.

Then the storm hit, blasting homes with high winds and heavy rains. It was downgraded to a tropical storm at midnight on Wednesday. It was centered about 30 miles southwest of Macon, Georgia.

Peaton says he is working closely with the National Weather Service to provide accurate information and protective measures to his county, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is especially vulnerable to any flooding produced by Michael. Reaching the worst-hit areas wasn't easy.

Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, said there was "one hurricane-related fatality", adding that the incident was "debris-related".

- Storm riders: Roughly 375,000 people in Florida warned to evacuate; many refused, including 285 people in Mexico Beach where Michael made landfall. Authorities said that 285 people in the city refused to leave.

The massive storm hit the Panhandle in northwest Florida early Wednesday afternoon, leaving a trail of devastation.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for. "I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle", meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com told The Associated Press. A light pole toppled onto an SUV in the parking lot. So many families have lost everything. She and her daughter booked a hotel room through Friday.

"Those who stick around to witness storm surge don't typically live to talk about it", he said. Simply put, with warmer seas, storms ought to be able to pull this off more often.

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Previous: What used to be a gorgeous beachfront city now looks like an apocalyptic mess after Hurricane Michael shredded Mexico Beach, Florida.

"The entire county was "pitch black" and there were no clear roads", he said.

With the hurricane still pounding the state hours after it came ashore, and conditions too unsafe in places for search-and-rescue teams to go out, there were no further reports on deaths or injuries by nightfall. Another 3,500 National Guard members were also ready to deploy, he said. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. "This is going to have structure damaging winds along the coast and hurricane force winds inland".

Gale and James Berry fled to a city shelter in Lincoln High School's cafeteria.

FEMA is already on the ground in Florida; other federal agencies are also preparing to assist people in the storm's path.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home, Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (75 kilometres) from Michael's centre at the height of the storm.

On the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, category 4 includes winds of up to 156mph with possible severe damage to even well-built homes and trees being felled. The vast majority of that wetness fell in the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basin, resulting in historic flooding of several rivers in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions of the Palmetto State.

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has also designated 40 law-enforcement officers for rapid deployment. In 2016, Hurricane Hermine, which also targeted the Panhandle, submerged Cedar Key under a 9-foot storm surge.