Hurricane Michael makes landfall as strongest storm in USA in 50 years

Storm clouds form before Hurricane Michael comes ashore

Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle Wednesday as the most powerful storm to strike the US mainland in 50 years. "Other storms like Hurricane Opal in 1995 actually went from a Category 4 to 3, just like most storms that make landfall on the Gulf Coast tend to weaken".

Hurricane Michael is predicted to travel northeast across the southern USA, reaching the Atlantic Ocean again on tomorrow night (Oct. 11).

Myrtle Beach, which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Florence, is predicted to experience 46 miles per hour winds - the most powerful gusts in the Palmetto State.

A Red Cross official said it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.

"You can not hide from storm surge".

Its winds shrieking, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a lightly populated, 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases.

O'Shaughnessy said 2,216 active duty personnel had been pre-positioned ahead of the storm, along with 32 helicopters, 240 high-water vehicles and 32 swift water boats.

"Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events".

"Our biggest concern is... the people that chose not to evacuate", he told CNN.

The eye of the storm, ... Governor Rick Scott said there was a "lot of roof damage" in the storm's path. That sort of timetable can make evacuations more hard to manage.

"The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no category four hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".

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The evacuation order remains in effect until further notice.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning in 66 counties.

"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.

But heavy rain could trigger "life-threatening flash floods" in the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia as the storm moves to the northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Just a few miles to the east of Panama City Beach lies the tourist town of Mexico Beach, which took a direct hit.

FEMA head Brock Long acknowledged that early evacuation efforts in the area were slow in comparison to how quickly the hurricane intensified.

Past year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equalling US$125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Footage shared at around 4pm showed the wind speeds had dropped to 140mph, with a central pressure of 927 MB, but it remained a "very powerful hurricane".

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard.

Characterized by strong winds and heavy rainfall, the hurricane of 1930 caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic.

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