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Hurricane Michael wrecks Florida Panhandle, blitzes every home in its path and kills at least two - officially becoming worst EVER to hit the region - as rains now flood Georgia and the Carolinas

Hurricane Michael gains strength as it surges towards Florida: 'Monstrous' Category 4 storm packs 150mph winds in what could be the worst ever to hit the region

A collapsed boat housing after the arrival of Hurricane Michael which hit with winds of 150mph on Wednesday afternoon

  • Hurricane Michael strengthened into a category 4 storm with winds of up to 155mph on Wednesday
  • But since making landfall the storm weakened to a category 3, and has now dropped to a category 1
  • Roads were flooded, trees uprooted and homes were destroyed after 'monstrous' storm hit Mexico Beach
  • At least two people have been killed including an 11-year-old child at home in Seminole County, Georgia
  • Man died in Greensboro, Florida when a tree crashed through his home as emergency crews raced to help
  • More than 500,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia and Alabama have been left without power
  • President Donald Trump, under fire for not visiting victims, has declared a state of emergency for Florida
  • Michael is the fourth strongest after Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969 and a Labor Day Hurricane in 1935

Hurricane Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle with winds of 155mph Wednesday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, as it became the most powerful storm to ever hit the region - and the fourth strongest to make landfall in the US.

Roads were flooded, trees uprooted and homes destroyed after the 'monstrous' storm ploughed into Mexico Beach at around 2pm and swept across the state.

At least two people have been killed including an 11-year-old child in Seminole County, Georgia, who died after a tree fell on her home.

A man in Greensboro, Florida was also killed when a tree crashed through his home and trapped him. Downed power lines and blocked roads stopped emergency crews getting to him in time.

More than 500,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia and Alabama have been left without power as the storm moves north east before ending up in the Atlantic by Friday.

In terms of wind speed, Michael is the fourth strongest storm ever to hit the US after Andrew in 1992, Camille in 1969 and an unnamed Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 which had winds of 184mph.

Scientists say it was so strong because warm waters of 84F (29C) extended unusually far up the northern Gulf Coast for this time of year after Florida had its warmest September ever.

Hurricane Michael's eye approaches the coast of Florida
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center and were tearing buildings apart in Panama City Beach after the hurricane made landfall on Wednesday afternoon

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center and were tearing buildings apart in Panama City Beach after the hurricane made landfall on Wednesday afternoon

Storm Surge retreats from inland areas, foreground, where boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday

Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City

Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City

Destruction: The sun sets on a wreckage-littered street after Hurricane Michael passed over Panama City, Florida

Destruction: The sun sets on a wreckage-littered street after Hurricane Michael passed over Panama City, Florida

Damage to a McDonald's in Panama City, downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall along Florida's Panhandle

Damage to a McDonald's in Panama City, downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall along Florida's Panhandle

Damages to the Presbyterian school in Panama City, downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday

Damages to the Presbyterian school in Panama City, downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday

An American flag battered by Hurricane Michael continues to fly in the in the rose colored light of sunset at Shell Point Beach 

An American flag battered by Hurricane Michael continues to fly in the in the rose colored light of sunset at Shell Point Beach 

Hurricane Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle with winds of 155mph Wednesday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, as it became the most powerful storm to ever hit the region - and the fourth strongest to make landfall in the US 

Hurricane Michael barreled into the Florida Panhandle with winds of 155mph Wednesday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, as it became the most powerful storm to ever hit the region - and the fourth strongest to make landfall in the US 

Bo Lynn's Market starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks as Hurricane Michael pushes the storm surge up the Wakulla and Saint Marks Rivers

Bo Lynn's Market starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks as Hurricane Michael pushes the storm surge up the Wakulla and Saint Marks Rivers

A man watches the sun set during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida. The hurricane is the fourth strongest ever to hit the US

A man watches the sun set during Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida. The hurricane is the fourth strongest ever to hit the US

This graphic shows where the hurricane came from before it made landfall on Wednesday. It will head into the Atlantic Ocean by Friday

This graphic shows where the hurricane came from before it made landfall on Wednesday. It will head into the Atlantic Ocean by Friday

This graphic shows the projected path of the storm. It made landfall on Wednesday and will leave land by Friday

This graphic shows the projected path of the storm. It made landfall on Wednesday and will leave land by Friday

Why was Hurricane Michael so strong? 

Scientists say it was so strong because warm waters of 84F (29C) extended unusually far up the northern Gulf Coast for this time of year after Florida had its warmest September ever.

It was also strong because the eyewall - the ring around the eye of the storm - formed late.

This meant that there was not enough time for an eyewall replacement - a second ring formed of rainclouds - to form and weaken the storm. 

Normally, the so-called eyewall replacement cycle weakens a storm by 20-30mph - but Michael was at its strongest when it made landfall.

The storm came ashore as a category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, before it was downgraded to a category 3. By 8pm, it was down to a category 1. 

The winds were so strong they brought down a billboard in Florida's Panama City, tore down a Texaco gas pumping station canopy in Inlet Beach and caused a storm surge that completely knocked a house off its foundations in Mexico Beach. 

Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain. Murky water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

Hours earlier, meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.

'We are in new territory,' National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. 'The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.'

The University of Georgia's Marshall Shepherd called it a 'life-altering event'. More than 370,000 were ordered to evacuate but many refused. 

By Wednesday night, the storm had moved north into South and North Carolina after sparking flash foods and property damage in Georgia.

The tropical storm moved across southwestern Georgia at about 20mph Wednesday night as it made its way northeast towards the Atlantic. 

A tornado watch is in effect across south and central Georgia until 2am Thursday. Dramatic footage showed homes and cars submerged in flood waters as the hurricane battered the Sunshine State.    

Forecasters warned rain could reach up to a foot and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet.

Mexico Beach councilwoman Linda Albrecht told CNN that she fears she won't have a home to go back to after the hurricane sweeps through the state.

'It is extremely emotional,' she said, fighting tears. ;It's like a nightmare. You just want somebody to shake you and wake you up. How can this happen?' 

'I am hearing on TV, as all of us go home, it will be like a war zone,' she added. 'That's the only thing I can imagine.' 

Reid Garrett warned that every single building he'd seen in Panama City, had damage. 

A collapsed boat housing after the arrival of Hurricane Michael which hit with winds of 150mph on Wednesday afternoon

A collapsed boat housing after the arrival of Hurricane Michael which hit with winds of 150mph on Wednesday afternoon

A woman and her children wain near a destroyed gas station after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida

A woman and her children wain near a destroyed gas station after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida

Wrecked boats sit near a pier after the arrival of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida

Wrecked boats sit near a pier after the arrival of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida

A McDonald's sign damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida 

A McDonald's sign damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Panama City Beach, Florida 

Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida 

Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida 

A man walks through a flooded street after the arrival of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, USA, 10 October 

A man walks through a flooded street after the arrival of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, USA, 10 October 

Hurricane Michael formed off the coast of Cuba carrying major Category 4 landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Surge in the Big Bend area, along with catastrophic winds at 155mph 

Hurricane Michael formed off the coast of Cuba carrying major Category 4 landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Surge in the Big Bend area, along with catastrophic winds at 155mph 

A hubcap blows by as a man runs to his car during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday 

A hubcap blows by as a man runs to his car during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday 

A view of storm damage during Hurricane Michael which slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century

A view of storm damage during Hurricane Michael which slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century

Meanwhile, President Trump came under fire for failing to visit Florida or the Carolinas as they were battered by the storm.

Speaking in a interview with Fox News on Wednesday night, Donald Trump explained that he'd wanted to attend his Wednesday rally instead because he didn't want to let down his supporters.

'If I didn't go, they would also criticize,' he explained. 'This was set up a long time ago. We had thousands of people lined up from yesterday. 

'I mean literally they stayed 24 hours and sometimes more than that to go to these rallies. They like them. You probably saw the pictures on television tonight. 

'Thousands and thousands of people outside after the arena. It was a big arena. But it was full. We had 15 or beyond that thousand people outside. If I didn't go, that would have been the wrong thing too.'

Trump said that he'd been in 'constant communication' with Florida governor Rick Scott and the governor of Alabama, and has 'people in Florida'.

He added that it had been a 'tough' storm, offering the insight: ' The wind was probably more dangerous than anything else.'  

Pam Heckstall surveys the damage as the remnants of Hurricane Michael move through Panama City, Flaorida

Pam Heckstall surveys the damage as the remnants of Hurricane Michael move through Panama City, Flaorida

The eye of the monstrous Hurricane Michael (pictured above) made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida just before 2pm Wednesday and the eyewall came ashore minutes earlier between Panama City and St. Vincent Island

Hotel employees look at a canopy that had just collapsed as Hurricane Michael tore through Panama City Beach on Wednesday afternoon

Hotel employees look at a canopy that had just collapsed as Hurricane Michael tore through Panama City Beach on Wednesday afternoon

The president (pictured at a rally on Wednesday) has come under fire for failing to visit Florida or the Carolinas as they are battered by the storm

The president (pictured at a rally on Wednesday) has come under fire for failing to visit Florida or the Carolinas as they are battered by the storm

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The St. Marks River in Florida had already started to overflow into the city on Wednesday morning prior to the hurricane making landfall

  • Hurricane Michael strengthened into a Category 4 storm with winds of up to 150mph on Wednesday
  • More than 375,000 people in 22 Florida counties were under evacuation orders and advisories
  • But Florida Governor Rick Scott warned Wednesday morning it was too late to evacuate and urged people to seek refuge immediately 
  • Michael is expected to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle by Wednesday afternoon  
  • It is forecast to bring 150 mph winds, up to a foot of rain and life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet
  • Meteorologists said it had the potential to become one of the worst storms in the history of the region
  • Multiple airports were closed in Florida on Wednesday and more than 453 flights had been canceled 
  • President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida
  • Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio warned anyone in the path of the storm surge: 'You're going to die' 

Monstrous Hurricane Michael has increased in strength as it inches closer to the Florida Panhandle with the Category 4 storm expected to smash the state with catastrophic surges of sea water and roof-shredding winds in what could be the worst hurricane ever recorded in the region. 

Authorities told residents along the affected areas of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast on Wednesday morning that they had run out of time to evacuate and should hunker down. More than 375,000 people had been urged or ordered to evacuate in the hours leading up to the hurricane making landfall.

Michael is set to bring 150 mph destructive winds, up to a foot of rain and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet when it hits around midday. No Category 4 hurricane has ever hit the Panhandle, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Gaining frightening fury overnight, the hurricane's leading edge began lashing the shoreline hours before Michael's center was expected to blow ashore. By 12pm, Michael was just 50 miles offshore from Panama City and Apalachicola, moving fast at 14 mph.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said the hurricane will bring 'unimaginable devastation' and warned people in its path that it was now too late to evacuate, adding that he was 'scared to death' that some had ignored orders.

'Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in a century,' Scott said.  

'The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone. First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm. If you chose to stay in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.'

Hurricane Michael has been strengthened into a Category 4 storm early on Wednesday, just hours before it is expected to plow into Florida's Gulf shore with towering waves and roof-shredding winds

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, echoed the governor's warning to coastal residents that there might be no time left to evacuate.

'Unfortunately, this is a hurricane of the worst kind - a rapidly intensifying storm, which gives people very little time to prepare. It also gives them a shorter window to evacuate.'

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN it would be a 'killer hurricane' and warned anyone in the path of the storm surge: 'You're going to die'. 

Residents and tourists were told to flee low-lying areas in at least 22 counties along the shore in Florida's Panhandle and adjacent Big Bend region.

Meteorologists said it had the potential to become one of the worst storms in the history of the region.

'I guess it's the worst-case scenario. I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle,' meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said. 'This is going to have structure-damaging winds along the coast and hurricane force winds inland.'

It comes as a satellite image of Michael took the terrifying shape of a skull as it roared closer to the Florida Panhandle as a fierce Category 4 storm. 

The sinister-looking red and gray skull appeared briefly on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration infrared satellite images. 

The University of Georgia's Marshall Shepherd, a former president of the American Meteorological Society, called it a 'life-altering event' on Facebook and said he watched the storm's growth on satellite images with growing alarm. 

FL Gov: 'Michael the worst storm panhandle has seen in 100 years'
Jayden Morgan carries his dog to safety through a flooded street in St. Marks as his family evacuates at the last minute before Hurricane Michael hits the state

Jayden Morgan carries his dog to safety through a flooded street in St. Marks as his family evacuates at the last minute before Hurricane Michael hits the state

The St. Marks River in Florida had already started to overflow into the city on Wednesday morning prior to the hurricane making landfall
Strong winds had already caused trees to fall in Okaloosa County on Wednesday morning
Streets in Okaloosa County were already experiencing minor flooding in the hours before Hurricane Michael was due to make landfall on Wednesday

Streets in Okaloosa County were already experiencing minor flooding in the hours before Hurricane Michael was due to make landfall on Wednesday

Roadways were already flooded in parts of Florida with Michael forecast to bring 150 mph destructive winds, up to a foot of rain and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet when it hits

Roadways were already flooded in parts of Florida with Michael forecast to bring 150 mph destructive winds, up to a foot of rain and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet when it hits

Storm activity was intensifying on US 98 in Gulf County early Wednesday morning, hours before Michael was due to make landfall

Storm activity was intensifying on US 98 in Gulf County early Wednesday morning, hours before Michael was due to make landfall

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