After making landfall in Florida, Michael’s fierce winds and heavy rain struck Georgia, where it was downgraded to a tropical storm heading towards the Carolinas. Storm surge could reach heights of 6 feet to 9 feet from the Okaloosa-Walton County line to Mexico Beach and from Keaton Beach to Cedar Key.
Authorities said at least one person has died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home. Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), was the most powerful storm to hit the state’s northern Panhandle area in more than a century.
‘Continuous lightning is present on the forward edge of the eyewall, and lightning detection on the rear edge rotate with specific sections of the eye’.
Though wind speed is the basis for hurricane categories, central pressure is actually a better measure of damage that a hurricane will cause, a study published a year ago in the journal Nature Communications found.
A structure in Panama City Beach was no match for Michael’s winds, as the home under construction collapsed an hour prior to the Category 4 storm’s eyewall coming ashore.
“What you’re going to see is a storm moving very rapidly through Georgia, and it will maintain hurricane strength through southwest Georgia and central Georgia as it passes through later today and early tomorrow”, a representative for FEMA’s told Good Morning America.
Hurricane Michael has weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday as it hovers over south-central Georgia, The National Hurricane Center said.
Strong winds and rain did hit in Columbia County, but some people living in Lake City told News4Jax they feel like they lucked out, considering the damage from Michael could have been worse.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama issued a state-wide state of emergency on Monday “in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage, and debris produced by high winds and heavy rain associated with Hurricane Michael”.
Warmer water acts as fuel for a hurricane, helping it develop into a more destructive, windier storm.
Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.
Mike Thomas, the mayor of Panama City Beach, a resort west of Panama City, said he expected there would be casualties and that emergency personnel would not go out when winds get over 80km/h.
It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida.
“We just finished renovating and updating”, she said.
“We are in new territory”, National Hurricane Center (NHC) Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.
Never in recorded weather history has a hurricane hit the mainland United States at such a speed in October, the month marking the end of the June to November hurricane season. He acknowledged that a lot of the residents in the area were poor and said it was probably tough to leave.
As winds subsided in Panama City, resident Reid Garrett said his concerns shifted to flooding outside his apartment complex, which surrounded by downed trees. It quickly buckled under the pressure of the storm.