WHAT'S HAPPENING: Historic Hurricane Michael hits Florida

5pm ET Tuesday forecast track for Hurricane Michael

As of around 8pm, Michael was about 20 miles southwest of Albany, Georgia, with winds of 100 mph, becoming a category 1 storm.

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.

Florida has issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in at least 22 counties on the Gulf Coast, with Governor Rick Scott urging people yesterday to get out of the way of the "monstrous storm", CNN reported.

Power was out in almost 90 percent of Bay County, which includes Panama City, as night fell Wednesday.

Now that Hurricane Michael has made landfall, Georgia Power is monitoring the storm's path very closely and planning for their response to anticipated power outages.

It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the most powerful hurricane to blow ashore on the U.S. mainland since Camille in 1969.

Regardless of Hurricane Michael's ultimate classification, those in the path of the storm are facing life-threatening winds, storm surge and other risky conditions.

Once the storm passes they'll send crews out to take a look at the damage and from there begin restoring lines and poles.

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.

Before the storm made landfall, Scott said he activated 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard. We could see gusts near 75 with the core of Michael going by 3-6 inches of rain is possible and this is where the highest risk of tornadoes will be as well.

In any case, no matter how you measure it, Michael is among the most powerful hurricanes in recent memory along with Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992 and Katrina in 2005.

Without the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to provide it fuel, forecasters say Michael will be downgraded even further to a tropical storm by Thursday morning.

Hurricane Michael has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes. The hurricane's winds and waves were so strong, their rumblings were detected on seismometers - equipment created to measure earthquakes.

"I'm asking all Floridians to stay vigilant throughout tonight and tomorrow as we brace for Hurricane Michael to make landfall". The storm was moving northeast at 20 miles per hour with 75 miles per hour maximum sustained winds, just above the minimum speed to be considered a hurricane.

"Safety is our first priority and most times it's a distraction when they are trying to restore service and it delays the process of getting the restoration services where it needs to be", said External Affairs Manager Theresa Robinson.

"This is a full month later than we've ever seen a hurricane with anywhere near this strength", he said.

There has never been a Category 4 storm make landfall along the Panhandle and Michael just missed the Category 5 threshold of 157 miles per hour as it arrived near Mexico Beach.

After Michael left the Panhandle late Wednesday, Kaylee O'Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air.

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