Hurricane leaves trail of devastation in Florida

Palm trees are seen during a Hurricane Michael in Panama City

Damaged buildings and a flooded street are seen after Hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.

The agency said that storm surge is continuing to inundate parts of the Florida Panhandle.

Michael is moving across southwestern Georgia with damaging winds across the central and eastern Panhandle of Florida as well as southwestern and south-central Georgia, with storm flooding still occurring along the Gulf Coast, the NHC said.

Michael hit Florida with wind speeds of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), placing it nearly into Category 5 scale, which starts at 157 mph.

Diane Farris, 57, was among over 1,000 people crammed into a shelter there.

Catastrophe risk modelling and analysis firm Corelogic has just released an estimate of the insured losses from storm surge and hurricane force winds, which is based on the landfall factors hence this is not a post-landfall estimate of industry losses.

Michael had weakened to a Category 1, with maximum winds of 90 miles per hour as of 8:00 pm Eastern time (0000 GMT), but that still left it an extremely risky storm.

The storm is expected to affect many communities in the Carolinas still reeling from Hurricane Florence. 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.

The eye of Hurricane Michael began to move through southwest Georgia on Wednesday evening - the first major hurricane to reach the state since the 19th century, according to local reports.

The transformer exploded in Headland, Alabama, and and the power went out at Nolan Helder's home.

There has been only one storm with higher sustained wind speeds this far north in the Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane Camille in 1969. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

The Pentagon said it had pre-positioned more than 2,200 active-duty military personnel, along with helicopters, high-water vehicles and swift-water boats for deployment as needed.

Meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.

National Hurricane Centre meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote: "We are in new territory".

The NWS said it had found no record of any previous Category 4 hurricanes that made landfall in the Panhandle or the "Big Bend" coastal region.

Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate. "They said it grew into a monster".

More than 5,000 evacuees sought shelter in Tallahassee, which is about 40km from the coast but is covered by live oak and pine trees that can fall and cause power outages even in smaller storms.

The storm knocked the broadcast of Panama City-based WMBB off the air after the television station lost power, one of more than 263,000 customers experiencing blackouts in Florida.

A resident of St. Marks, Fla., rescues a cooler out of the floodwaters near his home on Wednesday.

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