Full coverage: Hurricane Michael, now a Category 3, barrels into Georgia

Clark Diaz
October 13, 2018

"This is going to have structure-damaging winds along the coast and hurricane-force winds inland".

On its current projected track, the storm is expected to hit central North and SC from Wednesday night, with maximum sustained winds of around 50 miles per hour (80 kph). Its sustained winds were just 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) shy of an extremely rare Category 5.

This email will be delivered to your inbox once a day in the morning. "And the one thing you can't get back in a disaster is time".

The high winds were knocking down trees and power lines.

Hurricane Michael is an extremely risky Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from Anclote River, Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay. Florida governor Rick Scott has said that residents who haven't evacuated will now have to stay where they are. The storm could leave wide swaths of the region powerless for weeks, he said.

The NWS said it had found no record of any previous Category 4 hurricanes that made landfall in the Panhandle or the "Big Bend" coastal region.

"We basically just walked away from everything and said goodbye to it", he said, tears welling up. "I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle", meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said. She remembers finding her bed frame in the sand, her neighbor's bathtub sitting inside it.

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"I feel like that they should've provided something", she said.

Perry and Mollie Williams were riding out the storm in their "fortress" home a block from the beach, their three cats and Rottweiler in tow.

"I don't get it", Smith said Wednesday morning. "But never on top of us".

"We honestly felt we might have a tropical system and weren't sure where it would go and now we're staring down the barrel of a category 4 storm", Gillum told CNN. And over the last forty-eight hours, it has doubled again.

Officials urged residents to heed evacuation orders, particularly in coastal areas where some mandatory evacuations are already under way.

Television news footage during the day showed many homes submerged in floodwaters up to their roofs in Mexico Beach, where the fate of about 280 residents who authorities said defied evacuation orders was unknown.

Scott said 1,000 search and rescue personnel were ready to respond as soon as Michael passes.

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About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby. They were the 1935 Labor Day storm (892mb) that struck the Florida Keys, and Hurricane Camille (900mb), which killed hundreds when it hit coastal MS in 1969.

Tallahassee, a city of 200,000, sits 100 miles east of Panama City. He noted that the wind gauge at the county airport blew off after recording gusts of 90 miles per hour.

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

The last major hurricane, a storm of Category 3 or above, to hit the Panhandle was Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane center data.

State officials issued disaster declarations in Alabama and Georgia and the storm is also expected to bring heavy rainfall to North and SC.

Gadsden County sheriff's spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said a "male subject" was killed by a tree toppling onto his house in Greensboro, Florida, near the state capital, Tallahassee, in the first report of a fatality from the hurricane.

Heavy rains were forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence in September.

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On its current track, the core of Michael is expected to move northeastward across the southeastern USA on Wednesday night and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

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