Hurricane Michael makes landfall as strongest storm in U.S. in 50 years

Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and an unnatural disaster

Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and an unnatural disaster

Exploding overnight from 120 mph to 140 mph maximum sustained winds, Hurricane Michael developed into a powerful Category 4 hurricane that's now just hours from landfall on the Florida Panhandle. That makes it the fourth strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the U.S.

After Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle Wednesday with catastrophic winds and rain, many people were recovering from the devastation.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Michael's center at the height of the storm.

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

At the time, the then-tropical-storm wasn't expected to achieve its current Category 4 status, but now that it's here, it's time to batten down the hatches.

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. We could see gusts near 75 with the core of Michael going by 3-6 inches of rain is possible and this is where the highest risk of tornadoes will be as well.

Twenty miles to the south, floodwaters were more than 7-1/2 feet (2.3 meters) deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said.

Michael has been downgraded to a tropical storm as it continues slamming Georgia with heavy rain and unsafe winds.

The hurricane will likely devastate Florida's Panhandle communities.

There are several ways to measure a hurricane's strength.

A man watches the sun set during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018. Emergency managers say they don't know how many left the area, but there were about 6000 people in 80 shelters in five states, including almost 1200 who are still in shelters following Hurricane Florence.

Unlike Florence, Michael is moving along and will continue to move rather quickly through the southeastern United States and then offshore by Friday.

Michael was forecast to bring a storm surge up to 14 feet (4.3 metres) in some areas.

Benson also posted a clip of the storm's winds picking up a portable toilet and sending it flying across a parking lot.

As the Tallahassee office of the National Weather Service said on Twitter earlier Wednesday: "If you're not sheltered in place now, you need to be!"

Only three major hurricanes have made landfall in the Florida Panhandle since 1950, Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

By Wednesday night, more than 403,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, utility companies said.

There has never been a Category 4 storm make landfall along the Panhandle and Michael just missed the Category 5 threshold of 157 miles per hour as it arrived near Mexico Beach.

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

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