Hurricane Michael weakens to Category 1 storm: NHC

Satellite view of Hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico

"You can't drive a auto anywhere, you can't do anything because it's littered with houses, pieces of houses", Patricia Mulligan of Mexico Beach told the Times. Officials hadn't immediately confirmed the man's name.

Michael grew from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in about 40 hours. By 8pm, it was down to a category 1.

At 11.00 am Eastern time (0200 AEDT), Michael was about 95 kms south-southwest of Panama City and moving north-northeast at 22km/h, the NHC said.

He said he could see a 90-foot pine bent at a 45 degree angle and said: "We are catching some hell". Cloud water releases a burst of heat, and hurricanes love heat.

"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in a century", Governor Rick Scott said.

In hard-hit Mexico Beach, Florida, houses are submerged in roof-high water with the remains of blown-apart buildings scattered in the flooding. "I didn't expect all this", he said. "It's like a nightmare".

Mike Thomas, the mayor of Panama City Beach, a resort west of Panama City, said he expected there would be casualties and that emergency personnel would not go out when winds get over 80km/h.

It appeared to be so powerful that it was expected to remain a hurricane as it moves into Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.

Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 10, 2018.

Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes and the governor told residents that if they have not already done so it was now too late.

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As far as wind goes, we can plan on 15-25 miles per hour sustained winds, with gusts over 40 miles per hour at times. Outer bands from the storm are also expected to bring roughly 100 mm of rain to the Florida Keys through Tuesday.

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. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992. As it moved further inland, its crushing force subsided.

"Along our coast, communities are going to see unimaginable devastation", Scott said, with storm surge posing the greatest danger.

"Our biggest concern is... the people that chose not to evacuate", he told CNN. "We will take care of each other". Homes were swallowed in storm surge. "Structures built before 2001 are not created to handle that type of wind, typically", Long said.

It is rare for a storm to be at Category 5 strength as it makes landfall in the U.S. The last one was Hurricane Andrew in South Florida in August 1992. "I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle", meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said.

Twenty miles to the south, floodwaters were more than 7-1/2 feet (2.3 meters) deep near Apalachicola, a town of about 2,300 residents, hurricane center chief Ken Graham said.

Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call. The hospital said it is running off of generators and patients have been moved to safe areas of the facility. "You know, that's hard", she said, choking back tears.

A woman makes her way to an evacuation shelter in Tallahassee, Florida.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. Amtrak has also modified its service and is waiving fees for passengers who change their reservations.

Meanwhile, Michael continues its track across southern Georgia toward the Carolinas.

Hurricane Michael was barely a hurricane Tuesday morning local time, with winds of 90mph (145km/h).

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