A record-breaking landfall was made by Hurricane Michael, which plowed into the Florida Panhandle as a major Category 4storm with 155 miles per hour maximum sustained winds.
At least one person was killed, an official in Gadsden County west of the state capital Tallahassee told AFP, giving the first confirmed death from the powerful storm. The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least one person dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.
Recording the storm's landfall in Panama City Beach, The Associated Press's John Mone watched as the awning of the hotel he was sheltering in was ripped off by the severe winds. Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain.
Footage shows other homes and cars submerged in flood waters as the hurricane battered the Sunshine State.
Moving north-northeast at 16 miles per hour, the center of Michael, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, reached southeastern Alabama and southwest Georgia by 5 p.m.
The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm.
The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible across the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and southern SC through Thursday morning as the hurricane now moves inland.
"I've had to take antacids I'm so sick to my stomach today because of this impending catastrophe", National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake tweeted as the storm - drawing energy from the unusually warm, 84-degree Gulf waters - became more menacing.
Monstrous Hurricane Michael tears into Florida
Marks River began surrounding their home. "We've been through hurricanes but never where we were completely cut off like this". After the hurricane made landfall, Florida Governor Rick Scott urged those who didn't evacuate to stay in place.
Numerous buildings in Panama City were demolished, partially collapsed or without roofs amid deserted streets littered with debris, twisted, fallen tree trunks and dangling wires.
Michael is now positioned 60 miles south-southwest of Panama City.
But Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross said on Wednesday as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast had disregarded evacuation notices.
Rick Reichmuth, Fox News' chief meteorologist, said Michael was the fourth most powerful storm to ever make landfall in the U.S.in terms of wind, and the third most powerful in terms of pressure, at 919 mb.
"I think that we just caught the band of it".
A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported over 6.5 feet of inundation above ground level, according to the Hurricane Center. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.
Michael grew to be so fierce because it drew its strength from an unusually warm Gulf of Mexico, Masters said.
As winds started to topple trees in Tallahassee, one of them landed on Joe Marino's chimney.
Another key element to the strength of the storm is its minimum central pressure dropped again, this time to 931 millibars, meaning the eye of the storm is strong, intact and well-defined.
Meteorologists first got a sense something big could be happening by watching how Michael's eye changed shape.
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