Hurricane Michael obliterated towns along the Florida Panhandle when it slammed into the region Wednesday afternoon just shy of a powerful Category 5 hurricane, packing winds of up to 155 mph.
The monster storm carved a path of destruction as it crashed ashore and moved inland, destroying homes and businesses, flooding roads and downing trees and power lines, according to news reports.
Piles of debris and splintered wood, twisted metal and concrete rubble dot the landscape. Hospitals, schools and stores were damaged or destroyed.
Mexico Beach was ground zero when the fierce storm made landfall. It was practically destroyed and so was Panama City.
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State officials are still trying to get a grip on the death toll. The fast-forming storm didn’t leave a very big window for evacuations and many people stayed behind, trying to ride out the hurricane.
Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday as it swept through central Georgia and was still packing 50 mph winds late Thursday as it barreled through North Carolina.
Hurricane Michael path of destruction
Update 8:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 11: As Hurricane Michael continued its march through the Carolinas and Virginia Thursday, it left a path of destruction in it’s wake stretching from the Gulf Coast to Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management confirmed the storm knocked out power to 145,000 homes and business Thursday.
The National Weather Service is warning about dangerous flash flooding in places like Farmville.
A video shot near Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida shows what 155 mph winds look like.
Parts of the Florida Panhandle have been wiped out by Hurricane Michael. Emergency responders are still trying to get an accurate number of fatalities, but can’t get into some areas yet.
Complete devastation in Florida Panhandle
Update 6:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 11: The scenes along the Gulf coast are shocking. Whole towns in the Florida Panhandle, like Mexico Beach and Panama City, were mostly destroyed by Hurricane Michael.
The devastation stretches for miles, with lone structures dotting the landscape where entire neighborhoods once stood.
Thousands of volunteers, rescue crews and first responders spent Thursday trying to assess the storm damage and search for survivors.
Utility crews are on standby to help restore power to thousands of customers, but they can’t get through yet because roads are still impassable in many areas.
6 dead in aftermath of Hurricane Michael
Update 5:20 p.m. EDT Oct. 11: The death toll from Hurricane Michael in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina has increased to six so far, according to The Washington Post.
In Florida, the Gadsen County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed four storm-related deaths, but other than confirming a man’s death Wednesday from a falling tree, officials have not released any information yet on the other victims.
An 11-year-old girl was killed in Georgia by a piece of metal that was whipped into her home when Michael barreled through.
A 38-year-old man was killed in Iredell County, North Carolina when a tree fell on his car, the Post reported.
Meantime, life-threatening flash flooding is underway in parts of North Carolina and Virginia as the storm rips across the region, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.
The NHC is also warning of dangerous storm surge along portions of the North Carolina coast.
Death toll increases
Update 3:03 p.m. EDT Oct. 11: The death toll from Hurricane Michael is rising as first responders and survivors comb through the rubble along the Florida Panhandle. So far the total number killed is three, according to The Associated Press.
A man in Gadsden County, Florida, died Wednesday when a tree fell on his home. Another man reportedly died from a heart attack and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when a carport that was ripped away by the storm crashed into her home.
‘Looks like an atomic bomb had hit’
Update 1:28 p.m. EDT Oct. 11: One survivor of the hurricane that battered the panhandle said that his city “looks like an atomic bomb had hit our city,” The Panama City News Herald reported.
Some areas are not allowing residents who did evacuate to come back into their neighborhoods until crews can clean up power lines and trees that fell during the storm, the Associated Press reported.
Tyndall Air Force Base is closed as officials deal with “widespread catastrophic damage.” No one was injured, but nearly every home on the base has damage to roofs. About 600 families who live on the base were evacuated before the storm, the AP reported.
Power is starting to come back on in some areas with about 713,000 homes and businesses across five states still without power, according to CBS News.
In North Carolina, crews have had to conduct water rescues after neighborhoods were swamped by flash flooding, the AP reported.
In Georgia, the Seminole County coroner has identified the 11-year-old girl who was killed by Hurricane Michael. The coroner says Sarah Radney died after a portable carport was picked up by the wind and dropped on her home’s roof. The leg of the carport broke through the roof and hit her in the head. The coroner believes she died of massive blunt force trauma, WSB and the AP reported. Originally Seminole County EMA Director Travis Brooks said it was a tree.
State of Emergency in Georgia
Update 9:25 a.m. EDT Oct. 11: President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in Georgia. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that his declaration will allow the state access to federal resources to help local and state efforts to remove debris and recover from the storm.
Gov. Nathan Deal had already declared a state of emergency for most of the state and activated 1,500 National Guard troops.
Meanwhile more than 750,000 power outages have been reported in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama, The Washington Post reported.
Tropical Storm Michael moves over South Carolina
Update 8 a.m. EDT Oct. 11: Tropical Storm Michael is now moving over South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. EDT advisory.
The storm is about 40 miles west-northwest of Columbia and is moving northeast at 21 mph, the advisory said.
The center’s director, Ken Graham, is scheduled to provide an update on the storm at 8:30 a.m. EDT via Facebook Live.
11-year-old killed by falling tree
Update 5 a.m. EDT Oct. 11: According to WSB-TV, an 11-year-old was killed when a tree fell onto a structure in south Georgia as Michael swept through the state, Seminole County EMA Director Travis Brooks said early Thursday.
Meanwhile, the tropical storm continued to weaken over eastern Georgia with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. EDT advisory.
The storm is about 30 miles west of Augusta and 90 miles northeast of Macon. It is moving northeast at 21 mph, the advisory said.
Tropical Storm Michael continues to weaken
Update 2 a.m. EDT Oct. 11: Tropical Storm Michael is continuing to weaken over central Georgia, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 a.m. EDT advisory.
The storm is about 25 miles east of Macon and is moving northeast at 20 mph, the advisory said.
Michael downgraded to tropical storm
Update 12:38 a.m. EDT Oct. 11: Michael is no longer a hurricane and has been downgraded to a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said in its 12 a.m. EDT update. It is about 30 miles south-southwest of Macon, Georgia, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Michael is moving northeast at 17 mph, the update said.
Hurricane Michael weakening through Georgia
Update 11:55 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael is still a Category 1 storm, but barely. The hurricane’s wind speed has dropped to 75 mph, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is picking up speed, too, as it whips through Georgia, moving at 20 mph toward the northeast, the NHC said in its 11 pm report.
Hurricane Michael losing steam
Update 10:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael is weakening as it moves through Georgia on track for the Carolinas.
The storms wind speeds have dropped to 80 mph as it moves in a northeasterly direction at 17 mph, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.
The NHC is predicting a moderate risk of flash flooding as the storm moves through Georgia.
“Heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of southeast Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and southeast Virginia,” according to the NHC’s latest update.
Tropical storm warnings are posted along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.
The storm is expected to reach southern North Carolina sometime Thursday.
Parts of Florida’s Gulf Coast in shambles
Update 9:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The scenes of destruction in the Florida Panhandle in places like Mexico Beach and Panama City are staggering.
Shattered buildings, flooded streets, stripped and downed trees. Entire swaths of the region are completely without power.
State authorities said it could take up to a week to get power restored in some areas, although Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that repairing the grid is a top priority once first responders can get into communities damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Michael
The Category 1 storm is now moving through Georgia and marks the first time since 1898 that the state has taken a direct hit from a hurricane.
Update 8:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm.
First death reported in Panhandle, storm weakening
Update 7:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The first death from Hurricane Michael has been reported in the Florida Panhandle, according to The Associated Press.
A man was killed at his home by a falling tree, the AP reported, citing a sheriff’s official.
The National Hurricane Center is reporting that Michael is weakening and is now a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of 100 mph as it moves through Georgia.
Hurricane Michael moves into Georgia
Update 7:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The outer bands of Hurricane Michael are already being felt in Atlanta as the storm’s center moves through the southwestern part of the state.
Tornado warnings are posted in Atlanta.
WSB-TV Meteorologist Glenn Burns said that radar showed a large area of debris lofted over 11 thousand feet into the air in Crawford County, Georgia earlier, indicating that a strong tornado possibly touched down there.
Catastrophic damage in Mexico Beach, Florida
Update 6:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: When Hurricane Michael made landfall early Wednesday afternoon along Florida’s Panhandle, it crashed ashore in Mexico Beach.
Parts of the town look like a bomb went off with debris from homes, businesses and boats strewn about.
Catastrophic storm surge also caused massive flooding.
At least one storm victim was caught on video trying to hold onto the wall of his house as Michael’s powerful winds tore it down.
Emergency response to start when storm passes
Update 6:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The Florida National Guard is waiting to begin assisting in storm recovery efforts in Florida.
Utility companies have thousands of workers preparing to deploy to hard hit areas, as soon as they can safely begin fixing power outages, according to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
National Guard on standby in four states
Update 5:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The National Guard is on standby in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina and is prepared to deploy where needed to help with emergency responses after Hurricane Michael passes through.
Major damage in parts of Florida
Update 5:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael has caused major damage in parts of Florida’s Panhandle and Big Bend region and the storm is still moving through the state as a powerful Category 3 hurricane.
Power crews are on standby to help restore power in Florida when Michael moves out late Wednesday.
Florida gov. requests federal disaster declaration
Update 5:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already requested that President Donald Trump issue a major disaster declaration in the wake of Hurricane Michael.
Scott is also warning people in the Panhandle and other areas to stay off the roads and to shelter in place as the storm continues moving through the state.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a press conference that people who did not evacuate need to make sure they’re in a strong structure and that they get to the highest point.
Tornado threats in Panhandle and Big Bend areas
Update 4:54 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Tornado warnings are posted in parts of Florida and southern Georgia as Hurricane Michael spawns twisters as it moves inland.
The storm has caused major flooding in parts of the Panhandle and Big Bend areas, submerging roads and inundating homes, according to news reports.
Flash flood warnings are posted in several areas.
Dangerous storm surge is still a major concern along the Panhandle as Michael, now downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, blows through the region, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Downed trees and power lines are causing power outages along the storm’s path.
Reports of major damage
Update: 4:35 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The extent of the damage from Hurricane Michael in Florida’s Panhandle is still largely unknown, but there are reports that the powerful storm has caused major damage in some areas. Damage assessment is underway in some areas and more information is expected by Wednesday evening.
Michael moving northeast
4 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: At 3 p.m. the National Hurricane Center says Michael has moved well inland and the storm’s winds are sustained at 140 mph. From the NHC:
Marianna Florida airport: 102 mph
University of Florida/Weatherflow Mexico Beach: 83 mph
Panama City Beach National Ocean Service: 80 mph
Tallahassee International Airport: 71 mph
Donalsonville Georgia: 67 mph
Downtown Tallahassee: 63 mph
Still a very strong Category 4
3:20 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael is inland now and moving northwest. Maximum sustained winds remain at 150 mph.
More scenes of damage
3:18 p.m. EDT Oct 10
Michael uproots tree, pushes water inland
2:56 p.m. EDT Oct. 10
Some scenes from Michael:
2:36 p.m. EDT Oct. 10
How did the storm get so big so fast?
2:23 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: From The Associated Press: “Moist air, warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and ideal wind patterns turbocharged Hurricane Michael in the hours before it smacked Florida's Panhandle.
Hurricane Michael's wind speed increased by 50 mph in 24 hours, to 140 mph Wednesday.”
Click here to read the rest of the story about how Michael grew into a monster storm.
One of the lowest pressures ever
2:08 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Michael had the third lowest pressure of a landfalling hurricane in the United States when it crossed the coast at Mexico Beach, Florida. The “Labor Day Hurricane” of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969 were the only storms with a lower measured pressure at landfall.
Michael makes landfall
1:44 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael has made landfall northwest of Mexico Beach, Florida. The highest sustained wind measured during the storm was 155 mph. A Category 5 storm has sustained winds of 157 mph.
Eyewall coming ashore
1:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: There are reports of 116 mph gusts as the eyewall of Michael comes ashore. Landfall is not official until the center of the eye (where the lowest pressure is) crosses the coastline. It appears that will take place around Mexico Beach, Florida.
1:06 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: The storm is beginning to come ashore.
Power outages growing
12:39 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Nearly 30,000 customers are without power as Hurricane Michael nears the Florida Panhandle.
Water continues to rise
12:31 p.m. EDT Oct. 10: Apalachicola Police Chief Bobby Varnes tells CNN that water is rising in his city. The surge is about 6 feet now, at low tide. The city is expecting up to 13 feet of storm surge. U.S. Highway 98 has been closed in Apalachicola.
NHC latest update
11:58 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: The National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. CDT update puts Hurricane Michael 35 miles southwest of Mexico Beach, Florida, near Panama City. The storm has sustained winds of 150 mph. That is 7 mph from a Category 5 hurricane.
Michael gets stronger
11:45 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Michael has strengthened, according to the National Hurricane Center, with winds now at 150 mph. Gust are 175 mph.
What does a Category 4 storm look like?
11:15 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Click here to see a few livestreams of the storm as it makes landfall on the Florida Panhandle.
Michael is now moving north-northeast
10:50 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: The NHC has issued a 10 a.m. CDT update on Hurricane Michael. The storm remains at 145 mph and is now moving north-northeast. Michael’s speed has increased to 14 mph and at 10 a.m. CDT, it is located 60 miles from Panama City, Florida.
Michael is moving fast
10:10 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: According to the NHC, Michael is maintaining a fast forward motion of 13 mph. Ian Sears, flight director on a NOAA “Hurricane Hunter” airplane, says the pressure in Michael continues to drop. That means the storm is getting stronger as it moves towards the Florida Panhandle.
Water is rising
10 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Water levels are continuing to rise quickly along the coast of the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center says. A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola has reported more than 4 feet of inundation above ground level there.
Warnings about the storm surge
9:32 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning coastal residents that the storm surge from Hurricane Michael can reach 13-feet in some areas.
An ‘unprecedented event’
9:15 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: The National Weather Service in Panama City, Florida, warns that Hurricane Michael’s landfall will bring “catastrophic damage” to the Florida Panhandle.
“This is an unprecedented event as there are no Category 4 storms on record to have made landfall along the Florida Panhandle coast,” the NWS statement said.
No emergency services help now
9:05 a.m. EDT Oct 10: The Bay County Emergency Management Agency tweets that fire and emergency medical services are “now unable to respond to calls” because of deteriorating weather conditions. Panama City is located in Bay County.
The latest from the NHC
9 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Here is the latest update from the NHC:
Michael would make history
8:40 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: If Hurricane Michael maintains its current strength when it makes landfall along Florida’s Panhandle, it will be one of the strongest storms to ever hit the state. No Category 4 or Category 5 storm has hit the Panhandle since the National Weather Service has been tracking hurricanes.
The latest updated from the National Hurricane Center
7:45 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Hurricane Michael has sustained winds of 145 mph and is continuing to move north in the Gulf of Mexico. At 7 a.m. CDT, Michael was located 95 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida. The storm is moving north at 13 mph.
The latest from the NHC
7:05 a.m. EDT Oct 10: Here is the latest update from the NHC.
Storm surge will be high
6:45 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Storm surge levels could reach up to 13 feet in some areas as Michael makes landfall.
Michael update from the National Hurricane Center
6 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Michael is 120 miles south-southwest of Panama City Beach and 115 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, with winds of 140 mph. The storm is moving north at 13 mph. A landfall near Panama City is expected around 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Michael has winds of 140 mph
5 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Here is the 4 a.m. CDT update from the National Hurricane Center
Michael is a Category 4 hurricane
Update 1:59 a.m. EDT Oct. 10: Michael has become “an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane” with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 a.m. advisory.
The storm is about 180 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, and 170 miles southwest of Apalachicola. It is moving north at 12 mph, the advisory said.
What it is like to be on a cruise ship in a storm
Update 11:16 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas cruise ship apparently got caught in the outer bands of Hurricane Michael early Tuesday on its way to Cuba. One of the ship’s passengers posted video of the encounter on Twitter.
Hurricane Michael inching toward Category 4 status
Update 11:00 pm. EDT Oct. 9: Hurricane Michael’s wind speeds have increased to 125 mph as it maintains a steady pace of 12 mph, tracking for the Florida Panhandle, according to the latest briefing from the National Hurricane Center.
Roads in Alabama are already flooding as Michael closes in.
The National Weather Service has put out a bulletin urging everyone in Michael’s path to move inland “immediately.”
Warnings and watches all the way to South Carolina
Update 10:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Warnings for Hurricane Michael now extend from Alabama and Florida along the Gulf Coast to South Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.
Powerful winds and storm surge are a big concern as Michael tracks toward a landing early Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle.
Hurricane Michael becoming better organized
Update 8:40 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Federal agencies are warning residents about the potential for deadly storm surge as Hurricane Michael closes in on the Gulf Coast.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting Michael could cause storm surge between nine and 13 feet.
The chart below shows just how dangerous just a couple feet of surge is.
Michael’s winds hit 120 mph
Update 8:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Hurricane Michael is packing 120 mph winds as it barrels toward the Florida Panhandle.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s latest briefing, the storm has become better organized posing a graver danger to those in its path as it nears the Gulf Coast.
It is still moving in a northerly direction at 12 mph and has the potential to increase to a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall somewhere in the Panhandle early Wednesday morning, NHC officials said.
Storm surge could hit 13 feet
Update 6:40 p.m EDT Oct. 9: The National Hurricane Center has continued to warn that Hurricane Michael could cause potentially life-threatening storm surge.
Some areas along the Gulf Coast could see up to 13 feet of storm surge.
The agency is predicting the worst surge will occur between Mexico Beach and Keaton.
With severe storm surge comes flooding. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are warning people in Florida and in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas to brace for potentially dangerous flooding as Hurricane Michael makes landfall and moves inland.
Where will it hit
Update 6:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Hurricane Michael could make landfall in the Florida Panhandle as early as Wednesday morning anywhere from Destin, Florida, to Apalachee Bay as a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center is also projecting the storm will track northeast through Georgia and the already storm-weary Carolinas before blowing into the Atlantic late Thursday.
Unlike Hurricane Florence, Michael is moving much faster and forecasters expect the storm to moving quickly once it makes landfall.
Hurricane warnings are posted from the Alabama-Florida border to Florida’s Suwanee River. A hurricane watch is posted as far west as the Alabama-Mississippi border, the NHC reported.
Florida gov. issues another warning
Update 5:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning residents in the Panhandle and Big Bend areas that Hurricane Michael is a serious storm.
“This is your last chance to get prepared for this monstrous and deadly storm,” Scott said on social media Tuesday afternoon.
“The state is not taking this storm lightly and neither should any family,” he said as Michael bears down on the Gulf Coast.
Michael strengthens into Category 3 hurricane
Update 5:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is moving in a northerly direction at 12 mph.
How to find shelter
4:15 p.m. EDT Oct.9: If you need help finding a shelter:
Warning from the National Weather Service
2:35 p.m. EDT Oct 9: Michael could develop into a potentially catastrophic event for the northeastern Gulf Coast," the Tallahassee National Weather Service office is warning in its area forecast discussion. Storm surges of more than 12 feet are not out of the question, the NWS says.
2:14 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: United Airlines has canceled flights scheduled for Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon to three airports in Florida -- Pensacola, Panama City and Destin.
Thousands have been ordered out
1:45 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: More than 120,000 coastal Florida residents have been ordered to evacuate their homes in advance of Hurricane Michael. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has issued mandatory evacuation orders for 11 Florida counties.
Coastal areas of Bay, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Taylor, Wakulla and Walton counties are under mandatory evacuation orders.
Michael could be the strongest in more than a decade
12:35 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Michael could be the strongest storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in 13 years. With winds just 1 mph below the threshold for a Category 3 storm, forecasters say it is a good likelihood the storm will be a Category 3 as it makes landfall.
Deal declares state of emergency
12:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order on Tuesday declaring a state of emergency and warning that Hurricane Michael could have “significant inland impacts” in Georgia after the storm makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle.
“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Michael,” Deal said in a statement. “In light of the storm’s forecasted track, I encourage Georgians in the affected counties to be prepared and remain vigilant."
The latest on Michael
12:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 9: The National Hurricane Center says Michael is a Category 2 storm with winds at 110 mph. According to the 11 a.m. update, Michael is headed north and is about 360 miles south of Panama City, Florida. Michael is moving at 12 mph.