WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Hurricane Michael hits Florida’s panhandle with a category four storm status bringing 155mph (250km/h)winds on Wednesday.
- It is the third-most powerful storm making landfall in mainland US.
- States of emergency declared in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.
Hurricane Michael’s rapid change in its intensity left people surprised as it made landfall Wednesday afternoon in Florida’s Panhandle region bringing 155mph (250km/hr) winds elevating it to a category 4 storm.
Viewed as the most powerful hurricane to ever hit north-west Florida, Hurricane Michael left one fatality and 500,000 people without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia in its wake.
It was so powerful that even as it moved further inland, it still remained a hurricane with its intensity rising.
The storm started as a tropical depression but was turbo-charged by the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. By Tuesday, it has transformed into a category two hurricane with speeds reaching 155 miles per hour.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida already warned the people in his state about the unimaginable devastation Michael would bring, further adding that it would be the “worst storm in 100 years.”
Scott told reporters, “So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. This hurricane was an absolute monster.”
Officials reckoned that even though orders for evacuation were already sent to 370,000 people from Florida, many chose to ignore the warning.
Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist from the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) posted on Facebook about the fact that in historical record going back to 1851, there were no Category 4 hurricanes ever hitting the Florida panhandle and that “we are in new territory.”
Reuters also reported that Michael ranks third among the most powerful storms making landfall in the mainland US following closely behind Hurricane Camille in Mississippi in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in Florida.
Meanwhile, Director Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Agency, shared his concern about the capability of buildings constructed before 2001 in withstanding the high winds brought by Hurricane Michael.
President Donald Trump responded by hoping that they could hold up and if not, the people are not inside those structures.
Declarations of state of emergency has been raised in all or parts of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina as Hurricane Michael crosses the southeastern United States on Thursday and moving off the east coast on Friday.
The US National Hurricane Center says storm-surge warnings are in place between Panama City Beach and Keaton Beach in Florida, and between Ocracoke Inlet and Duck in North Carolina.