Hurricane Michael weakens to Category 1 storm: NHC

Waves crash along a pier as the outerbands of hurricane Michael arrive in Panama City Beach Florida

Waves crash along a pier as the outerbands of hurricane Michael arrive in Panama City Beach Florida

The powerful storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and ripped through the Florida Panhandle with 155 miles per hour winds and 12-foot waves that left a trail of destruction in its wake. It was the strongest storm to hit the continental USA since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The surge, or the rise in sea water above normally dry land along the coast, could reach at least 2.4m to 3.6m in the hardest-hit areas, inundating roads, homes and businesses. There is no doubt that portions of the Florida Panhandle will be destroyed.

Michael's minimum central pressure - a key measure of hurricane strength - was measured at 919 millibars when it made landfall.

National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said: "We are in new territory".

Michael came ashore with winds just under a Category 5 storm.

Michael's minimum central pressure remained at 923 millibars in the most recent National Hurricane advisory as it moved north-northeast at 14 miles per hour.

The CNN video shows what appears to be a basketball court littered with debris from the collapsed roof. Michael was the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle. Predating modern meteorological technology, the formation point and exact wind strengths of the hurricane are unknown.

The storm hit roared ashore along the Florida Panhandle, between Tyndall Air Force Base and Mexico Beach, according to NASA.

When it made landfall Wednesday afternoon, it was blowing at 155mph (250km/h). A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported over 5 feet of inundation above ground level. That makes Michael the third-strongest hurricane to ever hit the USA and the strongest in almost 50 years.

Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O'Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 10, 2018. Gusts may have clocked in higher, but the wind gauges broke.

The storm made landfall northwest of Mexico Beach around noon on Wednesday, with an eye so clear and wide it could easily be seen from space. This risk will spread northward into parts of Georgia and southern SC this afternoon and tonight.

Regardless of Hurricane Michael's ultimate classification, those in the path of the storm are facing life-threatening winds, storm surge and other risky conditions.

The tornado watch previously in effect in southeastern Georgia, including Savannah, has now expired.

Michael began dashing homes into pieces and flooding neighborhoods shortly after crossing near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 storm. The worst of the weather will be from 3 a.m.to 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (75 kilometers) from Michael's center. Expected landfall is mid-afternoon. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida Panhandle".

A restaurant fixture known as "Big Gus" is seen damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach.

"Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events". The Carolinas are still reeling from severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence less than a month ago.

Two to three inches of rain is expected for the area during the storm as well.

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