Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in a quarter century, was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday, adding it is expected to weaken further to a tropical storm by Thursday morning as it crosses the southeastern United States.
What does Hurricane Michael have in store for the Carolinas?
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.
As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing top sustained wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above.
Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.
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. The only other hurricane that landed with comparable force this late in the year was Hurricane Hazel in 1954, but Michael was much stronger when it came ashore, Mr. Henson said.
Briefing Mr Trump, Brock Long, the USA government's disaster chief, said: "This is the most intense hurricane that's struck this area since 1851".
Damage in Panama City was extensive, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down almost everywhere.
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NOAA Says It’s Category 3 With 120 Mph Winds, Storm Surge
ET on October 9, Michael's center was about 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida and 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida. The hurricane is expected to make landfall Wednesday in Florida before crossing Georgia and the Carolinas as a weaker storm.
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The Category 4 storm created storm surges up to 14 feet in areas, inflicted damages across Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City and spawned at least two "devastating" tornadoes in Gadsden County.
Images captured by Associated Press journalists show how Florida residents took shelter while waters were rising ahead of Michael's landfall. The storm had top sustained winds of 112 km/h and was moving to the northeast at 27 km/h. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S.in almost 50 years and at least one death was reported during its passage.
She could not say what time the death occurred or give any details about the victim.
Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said early evacuation efforts in the area were slow.
The National Weather Service office in the state capital Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders.
Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode.
Marino, who lives with his girlfriend and her grandmother, said water started dripping through the chimney, and they feared the wind would send the tree crashing through the roof. It is the fourth strongest on record, and nothing this ferocious has ever hit the Panhandle.
It appeared to be so powerful that it was expected to remain a hurricane as it moves into Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.
As the hurricane moves out of Florida, Scott warned that flash floods and tornadoes are still possibilities and said "the weather is still extremely risky".