Aerial photos show the devastation left in the path of Hurricane Michael

Aerial photos show the devastation left in the path of Hurricane Michael

Aerial photos show the devastation left in the path of Hurricane Michael

Michael is an upper-level category 4 hurricane.

The strength of Michael may be reflective of the effect climate change has on storms.

At 11 a.m. Monday, Michael was forecast to become a Major Hurricane.

- Top winds: 155 miles per hour (250 kph), strong enough to completely destroy homes and cause weekslong power outages.

By 5 a.m., Michael's eye was about 45 miles west of Augusta, Georgia, packing top winds of 50 mph and moving at 21 mph into SC, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

The town was under a mandatory evacuation this week as the storm approached the coast.

The NHC warns that some regions of Florida may experience storm surges of up to 13ft (4m).

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to evacuate as Michael closed in.

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Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. It's expected to keep blowing across central and eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia before crossing into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday or early Friday.

President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency. "You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Scott said, but "we have to make sure things are safe".

Storm surge is also inundating some areas along the Panhandle.

"Unfortunately, as handsome as the storm is up top, it is deadly down below", Disharoon said. Bill Nelson, said a "wall of water" could cause destruction along the Panhandle.

It was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to risky levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland. "Do not think you can survive it", Scott said.

In Georgia, governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 92 of Georgia's 159 counties.

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee said the ruins in Mexico Beach were "eerily reminiscent to the scene I saw in Gulfport [Louisiana] in 2005" after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Many residents hunkered down in designated shelters like this one in Tallahassee, riding out the storm in a sturdier building.

Updates, tracking resources as storm makes landfall
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in several Florida counties and devastating effects are expected to expand far inland. A child was killed in Seminole County, Georgia during the storm, emergency management officials said.

The rain Onslow County experienced yesterday, Austin said, was the outer fringes of the larger circulation, but not the storm itself. "You couldn't see anything anywhere".

According to Hal Austin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport, Michael is moving through SC as of Thursday morning. The vast majority of that wetness fell in the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basin, resulting in historic flooding of several rivers in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions of the Palmetto State.

As a category three hurricane Michael wreaked havoc in Cuba and Mexico, killing at least 13 people. The wind force in the center at that time had reached 249 km/h.

At 02:00 local time on Wednesday, the eye of Michael was about 170 miles south-west of the coastal city of Apalachicola.

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- High water: storm surge of 6 feet (2 meters) up to 14 feet (4 meters) forecast for Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend. The hurricane could grow to a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale before it makes landfall today, potentially the most powerful storm to strike the Panhandle in at least a decade. The agency said the storm's steady intensification over the past two days despite shifting westerly winds defies traditional logic. But it's still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, winds and a threat of spinoff tornadoes.

There have only been a half-dozen storms that struck the United States with lower barometric pressure, the most recent being Katrina, Andrew and Camille - and all six "were devastating storms", Klotzbach said. FEMA is already on Floridian ground providing assistance in the form of the EPA, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. National Hurricane Center, the storm made landfall before 2 p.m. ET. It is moving north (350 degrees) at around 12 miles per hour, packing maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.

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