Hurricane Michael weakens to Category 1 storm: NHC

Kerry GarnerOct 11, 2018

Forming near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday and having first appeared on radars just a day prior, Hurricane Michael is now situated 80 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, where it is set to make landfall, and is moving northward.

Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in more than 80 years and the third-most powerful ever to strike the US mainland, battered the state's Gulf coast on Wednesday with roof-shredding winds, raging surf and torrential rains.

Michael is predicted to be a tropical storm by the time it reaches the SC border with Georgia, according to the National Weather Service.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Tuesday an estimated 500,000 Florida residents had been ordered or urged to seek higher ground before the storm in 20 counties spanning a 200-mile (320-km) stretch of shoreline. "We didn't think it was going to be this bad".

Michael grew from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane over the course of about 40 hours.

As Florence made its way toward the coast of the Carolinas last month, it weakened from a Category 4 to a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour.

"We are catching some hell" was how a Panama City Beach resident who chose to ride it out described Michael as it made landfall.

As the storm continues on a northeast path, it is expected to hit Georgia and the Carolinas, the latter of which is still recovering from the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Florence last month.

Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.

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The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders. "You know, that's hard", she said, choking back tears.

"This happened so quickly", he said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican running for the US Senate in November's congressional elections, declared a state of emergency in 35 Florida counties.

Live footage from the International Space Station posted to Twitter by NASA showed the enormity of Michael's reach as it made landfall.

Trump was briefed on the hurricane on Wednesday prior to it making landfall and said he would visit the area early next week.

A year ago saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion (USD) in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard.

More than 17,000 people tuned into the broadcast, including Sen.

Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind Andrew in 1992, Camille, and the biggest one of all, an unnamed 1935 Labor Day storm that had winds of 296kph. Wind damage was also evident.

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