Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. There is no doubt that portions of the Florida Panhandle will be destroyed.
Sheppard said the major threats from Michael are high winds and storm surge, forecast to reach 14 feet in some coastal areas. It later weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, and there were reports it spawned possible tornadoes in central Georgia.
The storm surge, which is the elevated sea level around the storm itself that pushes onto land as the hurricane makes landfall, has spread from the panhandle down the Florida peninsula, reaching as far as Tampa.
Supercharged by abnormally warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a 200-mile (320-kilometer) stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases. Those with marine interests should stay tuned to future updates and warnings from the National Weather Service.
Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said Michael is “unfortunately, a historical and incredibly unsafe and life-threatening situation”.
“The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone”.
That means Michael’s pressure at landfall was lower than Maria, Katrina and Andrew.
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.
The hurricane’s peak winds were at 145kmh as it moved north-north west at 19kmh.
Tyndall Air Force Base had recorded wind gusts of up to 129 miles per hour before the weather station signal was lost this afternoon, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Meteorologists offered stark warnings ahead of Wednesday’s landfall.
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.
What does Hurricane Michael have in store for the Carolinas?
Only a skeleton staff remained at Tyndall Air Force Base, situated on a peninsula just south of Panama City.
Meteorologists use another measure to evaluate hurricane intensity: central pressure.
It is truly hard to imagine what the conditions are like right now down in parts of the Florida panhandle. This risk will spread northward into parts of Georgia and southern SC this afternoon and tonight.
It’s powerful 155mph winds ripped through the coast, flattening homes, flooding roads and leaving more than 400,000 without power.
“You can not hide from storm surge”.
As of the 5 p.m. advisory, Michael is an extremely risky Category 3 storm.
Hurricane Michael was barely a hurricane Tuesday morning local time, with winds of 90mph (145km/h).
Michael’s conditions are similar to those of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas past year as a Category 4 storm that packed 130 miles per hour winds and left 68 people dead.
A pier damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida, US.
“Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events”.
“Those who stick around to experience storm surge don’t typically live to tell about it unfortunately”, said FEMA’s Long.
As Michael exploded in power overnight, the expected inland effect of the storm became more expansive.
Addressing the media at the state Emergency Operations Center Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Rick Scott said a “massive wave of response” was already underway from the state, utilities and the U.S. Coast Guard, for the storm that “came really fast”.