Hurricane Michael threatens Florida with 150mph winds

People wait for breakfast as they and others seek safety in a shelter as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Florida

People wait for breakfast as they and others seek safety in a shelter as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Florida

Damaged buildings and a flooded street are seen after Hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. 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.

Hours earlier, it made landfall in Florida as the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. in almost 50 years and the third-strongest ever.

At least 13 storm-related deaths have been reported in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

A spokesperson for the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office said the man was in his mid-40s and had been at home with his wife, who authorities are now trying to reach. Some 125,000 homes were left without power in Georgia and over 52,000 homes in Alabama as of Wednesday evening.

The storm came ashore as a category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, before it was downgraded to a category 3.

Its winds shrieking, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a lightly populated, 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Michael will stay a powerful and unsafe rainmaker as it moves across the U.S. Southeast and off the Mid-Atlantic coast before heading out to sea by Friday.

Michael has killed at least a dozen people in Central America and a man was killed in Florida by a falling tree last night, according to authorities.

Hundreds of thousands of electricity customers were without power as of 6 p.m.

Meteorologists said it had the potential to become one of the worst storms in the history of the region as they watched satellite imagery in complete awe while the storm intensified.

In St. Marks, John Hargan and his family gathered up their pets and moved to a raised building constructed to withstand a Category 5 after water from the St. Marks River began surrounding their home.

More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia issued an emergency declaration for 92 counties in the southern part of that state.

As of 4 a.m. Wednesday, almost 8,000 people were being housed in 54 shelters across the Panhandle and Big Bend, according to the state Division of Emergency Management.

About eight inches of rain is expect to drench the Carolinas while a foot (30 cm) of rain has been forecast for Florida. Some of those areas are still working to recover from Hurricane Florence.

"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.

The storm had picked up steam as it sped across the Gulf of Mexico toward the Florida Panhandle.

At least 388,000 utility customers lost power as Hurricane Michael crashed ashore -- with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 miles per hour -- between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, before speeding north into Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday.

At 11.00 am Eastern time (0200 AEDT), Michael was about 95 kms south-southwest of Panama City and moving north-northeast at 22km/h, the NHC said.

"Hurricane Michael can not break Florida", Scott vowed.

Central pressure is the measure of how much the atmosphere in the middle of a storm weighs.

The Bush reference, meanwhile, relates to the former President flying over a Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, and surveying the damage from Air Force One, in 2005 - an event that some have argued caused lasting damage to his reputation.

Even as Michael moved farther inland, it continued to pack maximum sustained winds of up to 225kmh and has a well-defined eye.

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".

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