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"Worst Case Scenario": Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall In Florida With 155 MPH Winds


Haley Nelson inspects damage to her family property in Panama City, Fla.

Pedro Portal / AP

Haley Nelson inspects damage to her family property in Panama City, Fla.

Here’s What We Know

  • Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds reaching 155 mph.
  • Michael is the most intense hurricane to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle, and the strongest to strike the US in the month of October, bringing catastrophic wind and storm surge to the region.
  • After cutting a destructive path through Florida, Michael has barreled into Georgia where it has weakened to a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds.
  • One death has been linked to the hurricane. Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree that crashed into his home.
  • The National Weather Service warned some locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months after the devastating storm.
  • Mandatory evacuations were in place in at least 13 Florida counties, and another six were under voluntary evacuation.
  • Follow AngleNews’ Talal Ansari, who is reporting from Tallahassee, for the latest.

A family decided to ride out Hurricane Michael and it was terrifying

Tessa Talarico

Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm that brought destruction and terror as it bore down on the Florida Panhandle. With a central pressure of just 919 millibars, the storm was the third most intense hurricane to ever make landfall in the US.

As the unprecedented storm struck the coast, the city of Mexico Beach was directly in its path.

Among those sheltering in Mexico Beach were Patricia Mulligan and her 12-year-old daughter, Tessa Talarico, who documented the storm’s destruction on her Instagram account.

Read more here.

—David Mack

Hurricane Michael claims its first fatality after tearing through the Florida Panhandle

Gerald Herbert / AP

The first death linked to Hurricane Michael has been confirmed in Greensboro, Florida, officials said Wednesday evening.

A man in his forties was killed after a tree fell onto his house and crushed him around 5:30 p.m., Gadsden Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Anglie Hightower told AngleNews.

Hightower said the man’s wife was also injured but expected to survive.

Search and rescue crews were being deployed across the Florida Panhandle as the hurricane crossed into Georgia on Wednesday evening.

Sen. Marco Rubio said on Twitter that those teams expected “to find loss of life.”

Dawnn Hicks told AngleNews she feared her parents Nancy and Larry Britt were among the dead after not evacuating from their home in Mexico Beach, a small coastal city located directly in the hurricane’s path.

“If not it will be a total miracle from God, because they live in a one-story house,” said Hicks, 53, who lives in Georgia, adding that her parents reside in a log cabin right off the beach. “We’re basically waiting for search and rescue to go in and find out what they find out.”

Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged that not everyone evacuated in advance of the storm, saying that officials would assess what they could do to better prepare people.

“I’m still praying that we didn’t lose anybody,” Scott said at a press conference shortly before officials reported the first hurricane-related death.

Hicks said she and her sisters offered to drive down to Mexico Beach to get their parents, but their dad said he and their mom “would be OK.”

Still, the couple, who Hicks said are in their late seventies and early eighties, tried to leave on Monday night but “they couldn’t even get off of their street” so they stayed.

Hicks last heard from her parents at 11:35 a.m. Wednesday, a couple hours before the hurricane made landfall.

“He called and told me he was looking out the front door” at the storm, Hicks said. “He said he loved us all, us girls, and to pray.”

—Stephanie K. Baer

Hurricane Florence victims fear Michael will further damage what’s left of their homes and communities

Elsa Frongillo

Elsa Frongillo

Exhausted and drained, people across North Carolina are readying their already hurricane-ravaged homes and communities for another powerful storm.

Hurricane Michael is slated to smack the state, which is still dealing with flooding from Hurricane Florence, on Friday. North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, warning that the “dreadful storm … poses serious risks” for thousands of residents still waiting for tarps and other resources to help patch up their gaping homes.

Elsa Frongillo is still searching for a temporary place to live with her three children after Florence destroyed her home in Jacksonville.

“Our home was a total loss, along with most of the houses around the area,” the 28-year-old said. “We are doing as best as we can but with many in the same situation, everything feels nearly impossible.”

She described the plight of friends and neighbors, “many who have not had their roofs repaired or tarped or trees about to fall removed,” and are now nervously watching as Michael churns toward them.

In Lumberton, dozens of residents swamped by Florence are still struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Before last month’s devastating storm, people desperately tried to shore up struggling levies throughout Robeson County to try and stymie floodwaters. They gave way.

Bolin canoeing through Lumberton, North Carolina, on Sept. 22.

Vanessa Bolin

Bolin canoeing through Lumberton, North Carolina, on Sept. 22.

“Levies across the board here are poorly constructed and nothing has been done to repair them again,” said Vanessa Bolin, a volunteer with Mutual Aid and Disaster Relief who has been in Lumberton since September. “People just don’t know exactly what they are going to do or how they are going to recover.”

Tattered, mildewy furniture, clothes, bedding, and other belongings still lie in piles in front of mold-infected homes, Bolin and other North Carolina residents told AngleNews, sparking concerns that strong winds will cause more damage because of all the loose debris.

“Water is still standing in crawl spaces and we have hundreds of leaking roofs, collapsed ceilings, and destroyed floors,” Bolin said. “These people still need a lot of help. Some are still his hotels, living in their moldy homes, or in their cars, and some now are just plain homeless and have given up.”

Brianna Sacks

“Extensive damage” has been reported at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida

Palm trees are seen during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

Palm trees are seen during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Tyndall Air Force Base, located on the Florida Gulf Coast, where Hurricane Michael made its historic landfall “has sustained extensive damage,” according to a Facebook post by the facility on Wednesday night.

The military base, located 12 miles east of Panama City, was evacuated on Monday, though a crew dedicated to monitoring the base through the storm stayed behind. Evacuated personnel were warned to “make plans for an extended time away from the base” due to the damage.

“The storm brought down trees and power lines. It removed roofs from buildings and caused significant structural damage,” according to the Facebook message. The condition of the base’s runaway is unknown, however, and the monitoring crew announced plan to do an assessment after conditions have improved. No injuries have been reported so far.

The Air Force base was in the direct path of Michael and reported a 129 mph wind gust before the weather station was lost during the storm.

Extensive damage in the nearby Panama City has also been reported, including multistory buildings with windows blown out, damaged gas stations, and flooded homes. At Bay Medical Sacred Heart, Panama City’s largest hospital, the hurricane has blown out windows, cracked the walls, damaged the roof, and knocked out the power. Now running on generators, the hospital has some patients who have been evacuated to safer parts of the building.

—Zahra Hirji

Michael brings widespread destruction to the Florida Panhandle as it makes landfall

As Hurricane Michael’s 155 mph winds reached the Florida Panhandle, demolition followed.

People tweeted photos and videos showing roofs peeling off houses, flooding, and crumbling structures.

Michael is the most intense hurricane to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle, and the strongest to strike the US in the month of October, bringing catastrophic wind and storm surge to the region. Mandatory evacuations are in place in 13 counties.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott previously declared a state of emergency and said the storm would bring “unimaginable devastation” to the state.

Experts expect storm surge of up to 14 feet following the hurricane. The National Weather Service warned some locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months after the devastating storm.

Videos showed houses destroyed beyond repair.

The strong winds and rain also battered hotels.

Entire buildings collapsed.

Power lines and trees fell even in Tallahassee, more than a hundred miles away.

—Blake Montgomery

Michael makes landfall on the Florida coast as the third most intense storm in US history

A hotel canopy collapses onto vehicles during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Gerald Herbert / AP

A hotel canopy collapses onto vehicles during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Michael made landfall around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and a central pressure of 919 millibars.

The landfall is one for the history books. Michael is the third most intense hurricane to ever make landfall in the US, based on central pressure, as well as the most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall in the US in the month of October.

The 1935 “Labor Day” hurricane that slammed into Florida as a Category 5 hurricane with a central pressure of 892 millibars was the most intense on record, according to the National Hurricane Center. The second-ranked storm was Camille, which hit the Gulf Coast in 1969 as a Category 5 hurricane wielding a central pressure of 909 millibars.

Michael has already begun damaging the Florida coast with life-threatening storm surge and extreme winds. There have been multiple reports of flooded roads, bridges, and homes.

“As far as the power, pressure, the lateness of the storm, it’s going to set records,” Craig Fugate, the former FEMA head, told AngleNews.

“I used to kayak this whole area of the coast and I’ve been basically sitting at water level looking at these communities,” Fugate said. “I wonder what’s going to be left tomorrow.”

—Zahra Hirji

The eyewall of Hurricane Michael is making landfall on the Florida Panhandle

Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The eyewall of Hurricane Michael has begun to come ashore in Florida between St. Vincent Island and Panama City, the National Hurricane Center reported.

The NHC warned of “life-threatening storm surge and catastrophic winds moving onshore” as the eyewall (the most intense band of storms surrounding the eye, or center, of the storm) makes landfall.

“Do not venture out into the eye when it passes!” the NHC advised, warning that weather conditions may calm temporarily in the center of the storm, but then quickly become hazardous again.

A weather station at Tyndall Air Force Base reported sustained hurricane force winds gusting to 129 mph as the center of the storm roars ashore.

—David Mack

“This is a worst case scenario”: Hurricane Michael continues to rapidly intensify ahead of making landfall

Hurricane Michael is already impacting Panama City Beach.

Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

Hurricane Michael is already impacting Panama City Beach.

Hurricane Michael continued to strengthen just ahead of making landfall along the Florida coast, with maximum sustained winds around 150 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“This is a worst case scenario for the Florida Panhandle!!” the National Weather Service warned in a tweet. Weather officials are telling those in the path of the storm to take cover and treat the extreme winds as if a tornado were approaching.

Michael has already pounded the Florida coast for hours with strong winds, heavy rain, and storm surge. Preliminary observations in Apalachicola, Florida, suggest the local storm surge has reached a new record of 6.71 feet. Officials predict the surge levels could reach up to 14 feet there.

The damage reports have already started to come in, from collapsed gas stations to flooded coastal homes.

As of Tuesday night, at least 4,000 people stayed in Red Cross and other shelters in Florida, according to the Red Cross. There’s also been a wave of facility evacuations in the path of storm, including six correctional facilities and more than a dozen assisted living and adult care sites.

—Zahra Hirji

Hurricane Michael will bring “unimaginable devastation” to Florida, governor says

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Florida governor Rick Scott urged residents Wednesday morning to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves during the storm, which will bring “unimaginable devastation” to the state.

“This is the worst storm the Florida Panhandle has seen in over 100 years,” he said.

As the storm approaches the Florida coast, Scott said conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly, and for many parts of the coast, “the time to evacuate has come and gone.”

“The worst thing you can do now is leave and put yourself and your family in danger,” he said.

The storm surge will be 9–13 feet, the governor said, and could easily rise over the roofs of houses.

“We can rebuild your house but we cannot rebuild your lives,” he said. “Take this seriously.”

The governor said that as soon as the storm passes, rescue efforts will begin. He said there will be more than 1,000 search and rescue personnel deployed to help as well as dozens of crews staged to clear roads to aid in the rescue operations.

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

Hurricane Michael could be the most powerful hurricane to strike Florida’s Panhandle

Handout / Reuters

Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall Wednesday morning on the Florida Panhandle, as a Category 4 storm, causing a catastrophic storm surge and winds over 130 mph.

Michael could be the most powerful hurricane to strike Florida’s Panhandle, according to the Weather Channel. Evacuation orders are in place for parts of at least 18 counties, the governor’s office said.

“In our records, we’ve never seen a Category 4 hurricane impact this area,” Tim Oram, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center, told AngleNews. The strongest that has been seen was about a Category 3 storm a couple times in the 1800s and around 1917, Oram added.

As of Wednesday morning, Michael had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and is expected to grow stronger. At 7 a.m. ET Wednesday, the storm’s center was about 105 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida.

Florida’s northern and northwestern coasts are highly susceptible to dangerous storm surge due to the shape of the ocean floor and the curve of the coastlines there. The area between Florida’s Indian Pass and Crystal River, for example, could see 9 to 13 feet of water surging above normally dry land.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee has been urging residents to evacuate.

“This is as SERIOUS as it gets,” the weather service tweeted. “Major #HurricaneMichael has continued to intensify over the Gulf of Mexico. We want everyone to know this is an EXTREMELY dangerous storm and unfortunately the time for preparation is ending!”

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

Dangerous storm surges expected when Hurricane Michael makes landfall

Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

Florida’s northern and northwestern coasts are highly susceptible to dangerous storm surge due to the shape of the ocean floor and the curve of the coastlines there. The area between Florida’s Indian Pass and Crystal River, for example, could see 9 to 13 feet of water surging above normally dry land.

“Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm. The forecast keeps getting more dangerous and we are now just 12 hours away from seeing impacts,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced in a televised press conference on Tuesday morning. “The time to prepare is now.”

One of Michael’s “biggest hazards is going to be storm surge,” David Zelinsky, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, told AngleNews.

Read the full story here.

–Zahra Hirji, Peter Aldhous, and Hazel Shearing

These updating maps show predicted wind, rain, and floods from Hurricane Michael

Peter Aldhous for AngleNews / Via ncep.noaa.gov

Hurricane Michael is intensifying in the Caribbean, and is now forecast to strike the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 hurricane sometime on Wednesday.

Check here for a comprehensive set of maps showing predicted wind, rain, and floods expected from Hurricane Michael.

–Peter Aldhous

Here’s where Hurricane Michael’s storm surge may hit hardest

Peter Aldhous for AngleNews / Via nhc.noaa.gov

The waters have already begun to rise along the Florida coast thanks to Hurricane Michael, and the storm surge is expected to quickly become dangerous and damaging. The map above shows the areas that may be worst affected, according to the latest forecasts from the National Hurricane Center.

When a hurricane hits land, sea level can suddenly rise at the coast as atmospheric pressure drops and water is pushed toward land by the storm’s winds. These surges can be major killers, and are most risky when they coincide with a high tide.

“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the National Hurricane Center warned in an advisory on Tuesday. “This is a life-threatening situation.”

Read the full story here.

–Zahra Hirji and Peter Aldhous





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