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Hurricane Michael, among fiercest in U.S. history, bashes Florida Panhandle

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Hurricane Michael, among fiercest in U.S. history, bashes Florida Panhandle

By Rod Nickel

 

2018-10-10T190621Z_1_LYNXNPEE991P9_RTROPTP_4_STORM-MICHAEL.JPG

Waves crash on stilt houses along the shore due to Hurricane Michael at Alligator Point in Franklin County, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

 

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (Reuters) - Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to hit Florida in a quarter century and the third-most powerful ever to strike the U.S. mainland, roared into the state's Gulf coast on Wednesday with tree-snapping winds and towering waves that flooded whole beach towns.

 

Michael, whose rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico caught many by surprise, made landfall early in the afternoon near Mexico Beach, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Panama City in Florida's Panhandle region, with top sustained winds reaching 155 miles per hour (249 kph).

 

The storm came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale. Its sustained winds were just 2 mph (3.2 kph) shy of an extremely rare Category 5.

 

Causing major disruptions to oil and gas production in the Gulf even before its arrival, the storm was forecast to unleash waves as high as 14 feet (4.3 meters) above normal sea levels in some areas, the National Hurricane Center said.

 

“My God, it’s scary. I didn’t expect all this,” said Bill Manning, 63, a grocery clerk who fled his camper van in Panama City for safer quarters in a hotel, only to see the electricity there go out. "Panama City, I don’t know if there will be much left."

 

Only a couple of hours after Michael came ashore, floodwaters were more than 7-1/2 feet (2.3 meters) deep near Apalachicola on Florida's Panhandle, National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

 

In a Facebook Live post, Graham said Michael would lose some of its punch but retain hurricane-strength winds as it pushed inland to the Alabama-Georgia border.

 

Authorities had urged coastal residents in 20 Florida counties along a 200-mile (320-km) stretch of shoreline to head to higher ground before the storm, but anyone who had not fled by Wednesday morning was told it was too late to evacuate.

 

Much of the affected area is rural and dotted with small tourist towns, beaches and wildlife reserves, as well as the state capital, Tallahassee, home to about 190,000 people.

 

Even before Michael made full landfall, it was whipping trees with its winds and flooding the town of Port St. Joe.

 

"It feels like you don't know when the next tree is going to fall on top of you because its blowing so ferociously," said Port St. Joe Mayor Bo Patterson. "It's very, very scary. We have trees being uprooted, heavy, heavy rain."

 

'JAW-DROPPING' STRENGTH

Patterson said about 2,500 of the town's 3,500 people had stayed put, including about 100 in a beachside area who ignored a mandatory evacuation order. "This happened so quickly, we weren't exactly prepared," he said.

 

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said early evacuation efforts in the area were slow.

 

Michael grew from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane over the course of about 40 hours.

 

"Satellite images of Michael’s evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-dropping," wrote Bob Henson, a meteorologist with weather site Weather Underground.

 

With minimum barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars, a measure of hurricane strength, Michael stood as the fiercest storm ever to hit Florida's Panhandle and the most intense anywhere in the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

 

Michael also ranked as the third-most powerful storm on record to make landfall in the continental United States, after Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

 

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses. He was briefed by FEMA's Long in the Oval Office on preparations.

 

At mid-afternoon, about 162,000 homes and business customers were already without power in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, utility companies said.

 

Michael was forecast to move inland over the Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon, and across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia on Wednesday night.

 

Helen Neal, 88, and her husband, J.W. Neal, 87, preferred to take their chances in a hotel rather than stay in their two-story Panama City Beach beachfront house about a mile away.

 

"We just finished renovating and updating," she said. "We’re kind of nervous. God willing, we’ll still have some place."

 

About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby.

 

Graham said Michael represented a "textbook case" of a hurricane system growing stronger as it drew near shore, in contrast to Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after weakening in a slow, halting approach.

 

He said the storm would pack tropical storm-force winds when it reached the Carolinas, still reeling from post-Florence flooding. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rainfall was forecast for some areas from Michael.

 

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in November's congressional elections, declared a state of emergency in 35 Florida counties.

 

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for 92 counties in his state, and a state of emergency also was announced in North Carolina.

 

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Tallahassee, Florida; Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Panama City, Florida, Susan Heavey, Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton in Washington, Gina Cherelus and Barbara Goldberg in New York, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Liz Hampton in Houston, Andrew Hay in New MexicoWriting by Lisa Shumaker and Bill Trott; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-10-11

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2 hours ago, wayned said:

And having absolutely zero empathy, Trump gas decided to hold a political rally as one of the most powerful storms that the US ever had continues to destroy the lives and possessions of Americans throughout he Florida panhandle!  Did anyone tell him the, unlike Porto Rico, these US citizens can actually vote!

And it maintained hurricane status as it hit Georgia.   I hit Georgia, which is not on the Gulf Coast, as a category 1.   That is pretty powerful to not deteriorate once it hits land.   

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Well trump deserves it trump has no experience of hard times he knows only privilege and riches how could he know how it feels to lose everything  and my prayers are with all in harms way

Edited by Tug

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So how does this compare with the recent Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina 6 weeks ago?

 

Seems like a race to see which hurricane causes the most damage.

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The only thing that is 'getting stronger' is the media hype of hurricanes.  Each one will be called the "Storm of the Century" - then comes the global warning fear mongers.

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1 hour ago, connda said:

The only thing that is 'getting stronger' is the media hype of hurricanes.  Each one will be called the "Storm of the Century" - then comes the global warning fear mongers.

This was the first category 4 hurricane to hit the panhandle of Florida, in an area that is geographically conducive to devastating storm surges.  Category 4 hurricanes making landfall in the US are rare and always very destructive.  We will not know the full damage assessment for some time.  Why do you think reporting these facts is "media hype"?

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6 hours ago, connda said:

The only thing that is 'getting stronger' is the media hype of hurricanes.  Each one will be called the "Storm of the Century" - then comes the global warning fear mongers.

I watched some of the live streaming of the storm as it hit.   It was massive.   As they were broadcasting, a large house behind them just blew away.   

 

I think the people who experience these things would consider it media hype.   

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I am surprised that the Amercans who were affected are surprised, as they were warned that this was a strengthening storm as it was approaching.  Well, surprise!  So how many hold outs almost lost their lives by staying in their houses?

Geezer

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On 10/11/2018 at 3:29 PM, Stargrazer9889 said:

I am surprised that the Amercans who were affected are surprised, as they were warned that this was a strengthening storm as it was approaching.  Well, surprise!  So how many hold outs almost lost their lives by staying in their houses?

Geezer

Old family Floridians know better than to take chances with hurricanes, tourists and newbies don't.  Many fools in harms way remember the last game of Russian Roulette; I didn't catch a bullet last time, I probably won't this time. Smart people know better than to play this game.

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On 10/10/2018 at 10:20 PM, 4evermaat said:

So how does this compare with the recent Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina 6 weeks ago?

 

Seems like a race to see which hurricane causes the most damage.

Florence slowed down and wind speed fell off a bit.  Then it slowly oozed along and dumped massive amounts of rain in relatively flat country.  Michael zipped right along and made landfall with very high wind speed.  And kept on going quickly.  Last evening we got a bit of residual as it passed through Virginia.  Though we had fewer tornadoes than from Florence, there was damage and flooding in some areas.  My Mom a few miles away has been out of power for about 20 hours.

 

A forum buddy in southern Georgia lost all the trees in his yard.  One big limb from a very old Oak tree hit the roofing tin and allowed the wind to peel off the entire roof.  He now has about 750 square meters of tin in the yard.  He spent the last 6 or 8 years converting an old 8,000 sq. ft. brick ice house into a cool house/workshop.                         

 

Here's a pic of Mexico Beach on the coast of Florida.  Looks like a lot of houses ended up in the street.  A couple blocks over, there are streets with nothing left but bare concrete slabs.  Newer houses built to code did a lot better than the old shacks.  Note the guy in the orange t-shirt with the looter removal tool. 12 gauge shotgun.

 

AR-181019888.jpg?MaxW=950&cachebuster=86

 

 

 

Edited by Damrongsak

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