WHAT'S HAPPENING: Historic Hurricane Michael hits Florida

Michael strengthens into Category 4 | News

Michael strengthens into Category 4 | News

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio told CNN it would be a "killer hurricane" and warned anyone in the path of the storm surge: "You're going to die".

The storm made landfall as a powerful Category 4, the second highest rating on the Saffir-Sampson wind scale, and strike a stretch of the state's north-western coastline known as the Florida Panhandle. It was downgraded to a Category 1 storm, with top sustained winds diminishing to 75 miles per hour (120 kph), about nine hours after it made landfall.

Michael made landfall around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT) near Mexico Beach, a resort town about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Panama City on the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

As Michael exploded in power overnight, the expected inland effect of the storm became more expansive.

At least one man was killed when the storm brought down a tree on his Greenboro home.

Hurricane Michael has crashed into the Florida Panhandle with winds up to 250 kilometres per hour and the potential for a devastating storm surge from what was expected to be the worst storm ever recorded in the region. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labour Day storm, Camille and Andrew in 1992.

In Panama City Beach, a building that was still under construction didn't stand a chance against Michael.

Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, stripped away leaves, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles.

The eye of Hurricane Michael began to move through southwest Georgia on Wednesday evening - the first major hurricane to reach the state since the 19th century, according to local reports.

Michael, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, was the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit the Panhandle.

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The governors of North and SC urged residents to brace for more heavy rain and storm-force winds as Michael ploughs northward up the Atlantic seaboard.

States of emergencies have been issued for Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

This is preferred by Klotzbach, who explains that it is more precise for historical comparisons because it is measured precisely by an airplane flying in the middle of the storm's eye, whereas "wind is going to be different everywhere along the hurricane".

Downed powerlines are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.

About 30km south of Mexico Beach, floodwaters were more than 2.3m deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said.

"We are catching some hell", said Timothy Thomas, who rode out the storm with his wife in their second-floor apartment in Panama City Beach.

Around 30 million people across six states are under a hurricane watch and more than 375,000 people on the coast were told to evacuate, though many have ignored the emergency order.

The hurricane strengthened due to the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico. He acknowledged that a lot of the residents in the area were poor and said it was probably tough to leave.

Michaels speed made it a hard storm to prepare for. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and his ears even popped when the barometric pressure went lower.

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