Over 1.4 million homes had no power in Florida Alabama Georgia Virginia and the Carolinas
11 October, 2018, 23:58
As the clock struck Thursday, the storm had weakened to a tropical storm.
Michael, it added, could see some additional strengthening before it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend area.
"To my understanding, the hurricane was not directly in our path, but we would experience some heavy winds and rains which we did". A quarter of a million homes and businesses already were without power, and the number was rising rapidly.
The storm has sustained winds of 130mph (210km/h) and is due to make landfall at about midday (16:00 GMT).
Where did the storm make landfall?
Michael's center is approximately 90 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida.
The declaration was made based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center regarding Hurricane Michael's forecast path and intensity as it moves into the state of Georgia.
The high winds were knocking down trees and power lines.
Rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimetres), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 metres).
"The ragged but raging remains of Hurricane Michael" were in North Carolina on Thursday morning, the state's governor, Roy Cooper, said.
The University of Georgia's Marshall Shepherd, a former president of the American Meteorological Society, called it a "life-altering event", writing on Facebook that he watched the storm's growth on satellite images with a pit in his stomach.
Brock Long, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned that the brutal storm would "stay intact" as a hurricane as it roars through the Florida Panhandle and parts of Alabama and Georgia. Take action now to protect your life!A Tornado Watch remains in effect until 500 PM EDT/400 PM CDT/ for Big Bend of and the Panhandle of Florida. Graham said storm surge will inundate the Aucilla River there to a point where it will "flow backward".
The aptly named Lullwater Beach, just west of Panama City Beach, is quiet at the moment, but this whole stretch is looking at a possible surge of up to 13ft. The wind howled and rainwater leaked through the ceiling.
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"I know it's going to cover everything around here", said Robert Sadousky, a 77-year-old retired millworker.
Perry and Mollie Williams were riding out the storm in their "fortress" home a block from the beach, their three cats and Rottweiler in tow.
"We've been through this before", said Sally Crown, who planned to hunker down with her two dogs in the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, population 2,500. "They kept us informed...throughout the day". The fate of many residents remained unknown last night.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned it was a "monstrous hurricane", and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Bill Nelson, said a "wall of water" could cause destruction along the Florida Panhandle, the north-western part of the state. Another 3,500 National Guard members were also ready to deploy, he said.
Michael was the strongest storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle, and the only hurricane to do so as a Category 4.
Lines at gasoline stations were growing long in Panama City as people prepared to leave areas under mandatory evacuation, Trepanier said.
An extreme wind warning (EWW) is issued when a landfalling hurricane is expected to bring winds of 115 miles per hour, or above to a specific location.
AccuWeather forecasters said the storm will likely hit Georgia has a Category 1 storm.
Michael could dump up to a foot of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days.
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While heavy rain is expected to continue into the Saturday, the wind is now believed to ease off by Friday evening. The warning for Cork and Kerry is valid from Thursday 11 October 2018 22:00 to Friday 12 October 2018 09:00.
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What the Hurricane Center has been predicting has come to pass - Hurricane Michael has strengthened into a major hurricane. Smith near the vulnerable coast said his deputies had gone door to door in some places urging people to evacuate.
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Where Is Hurricane Michael Right Now?
In some states, like Virginia and North Carolina, it's a misdemeanor to refuse a mandatory evacuation order. A hurricane warning remains in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida.