Huge waves crash into roof, submerge Florida beach house

People wait for breakfast as they and others seek safety in a shelter as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Florida

The stunning scope of Hurricane Michael's rampage started coming into focus Thursday, as dawn in Panama City, Florida revealed a sprawling mess of nearly unimaginable devastation wrought by the third-most powerful hurricane in recorded history to lash the USA mainland. A storm surge of almost 8 feet was reported at Apalachicola.

The good news is that the sun has risen on the Florida gulf coast. A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported almost 6.5 feet of inundation above ground level.

The storm blasted the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia with wicked winds and killed at least two people.

Michael continues to weaken this morning and is now down to a Tropical Storms as of the 2AM update. Thousands of home have been destroyed from Panama City to Mexico Beach along the Panhandle.

The storm could drive sea water levels as high as 4.3 metres above normal in some areas, the National Hurricane Centre said. The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

"Anytime you have a significant storm surge event, roadways and bridges are greatly impacted and you have to survey those before you move power crews in", Long said.

Its sustained winds were just 3.2km/h shy of an extremely rare Category 5.

This warning also applied to people who stayed in places like Mexico Beach through the storm.

Though wind speed is the basis for hurricane categories, central pressure is actually a better measure of damage that a hurricane will cause, a study published past year in the journal Nature Communications found. Numerous same counties are also under flash flood warnings.

Panama City after Michael.

Measured in this way the lower the pressure the stronger the hurricane - Michael was the most powerful since Hurricane Camille in 1969.

The storm's intensity waned steadily as it pushed inland and curled northeasterly into Georgia.

Michael's rain and destructive winds aren't its only serious threats. It quickly buckled under the pressure of the storm.

The hurricane will likely devastate Florida's Panhandle communities.

Red Cross officials said 7,800 people were in 100 shelters across Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

More than 780,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday in the wake of the storm.

And this is a city that wasn't even on the coast. "It doesn't happen often that you see a storm increasing intensity while making landfall", said Lt. Col. Sean Cross, 53rd WRS pilot.

In a 10 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Michael was holding form as a Category 4 storm by landfall with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. It'll dry out for the Sox game in time and be dry again Sunday.

Hurricane Michael damaged the Florida Panhandle and crossed Georgia overnight with heavy winds.

When its eye hit Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday afternoon, the storm had sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, putting it just shy of a Category 5 hurricane.

The St Marks River overflows into the city of St Marks, Florida, ahead of Hurricane Michael. Wind damage was also evident.

The Hurricane Center added that "some additional strengthening is possible before landfall". By Friday, it should be a post-tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center. According to The Weather Channel, no Category 4 hurricane in historical records dating back to 1851 has ever made landfall in the region.

"If there's others that are still in those areas or maybe people in Richmond that have loved ones that are in those areas and can still get out safely - we urge them to do so because it's not worth risking your life", he said.

Jason Gunderson of the Cajun Navy said flooding and downed power lines made most streets impassible.

A Hurricane Watch before landfall extends from the Alabama/Florida state border to the Suwannee River west of Gainesville.

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