Hurricane slams Florida Panhandle, Georgia — WHAT'S HAPPENING

Hurricane Michael became a Category 3 storm with 120 mph maximum sustained winds on Oct. 9

Long said several hospitals in the Panhandle were hit by the hurricane and patients had to be evacuated. The risk of life-threatening storm surge, flooding rains, and unsafe winds are increasing for the northeastern Gulf Coast. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane-force winds extend outward from Michael's center of circulation for 45 miles.

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

Wakulla County issued a dire warning, saying it won't open any of its shelters - because they're safety-rated only for storms up to Category 2 strength, WFSU reports.

"It's going to move to our west and northwest during the day today", Austin said.

Michael is expected to rain 4 to 7 in. from eastern to southern mid-Atlantic Georgia.

An extreme wind warning (EWW) is issued when a landfalling hurricane is expected to bring winds of 115 miles per hour, or above to a specific location. The vast majority are in Florida and Georgia.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

"You can't make sense of it, but what you do is you take the situation, and what we have to make certain that our kids know is that we must be resilient", Smith said. "It looks like another big one".

The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.

More than 300 miles of coastline are now under threat, the National Weather Service has said.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. 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. And then there was the life-threatening storm surge to deal with.

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. Authorities expect the death toll to rise as the storm continues to push through the southeast.

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Michael charges into Southeast after slamming north Florida
National Hurricane Center forecasters warn the back half of the hurricane will continue to spread risky storm surge and winds. After there, the storm will move up through the Carolinas, hit by heavy rains form Hurricane Florence just a few weeks ago.

Emergency responders throughout Georgia, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle are working to clear roadways and provide aid to those hit from the storm.

Officials were concerned to help people who could be trapped in various areas along the coast, he told a news conference.

The Division of Emergency Management reported 400,666 customers of Gulf Power, Duke Energy and a number of smaller utilities were without power Thursday morning. At 11 a.m. Monday, Michael was forecast to become a Major Hurricane.

In Wakulla County, the sheriff's office made a list of people who chose to ride out the storm and will check on them Thursday, sheriff's captain Chris Savary said.

Michael could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. A huge swath of Interstate 10, the main east-west route near the coast, is blocked off due to damage.

Michael, which Scott called "monstrous", made landfall with wind speeds that were almost the highest possible for a Category 4 - 155 miles per hour.

According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.

But 24 hours later, Michael was already far stronger: It now had 140 mile per hour winds and a pressure falling sharply.

SULLIVAN: That's Florida Governor Rick Scott.

The storm "grew into a monster", President Donald Trump said Wednesday from the Oval Office.

"When the water came in houses started floating", said the man identified as Scott. But by Wednesday morning, it was too late to evacuate. He spoke to WUFT. "That's where you're going to see the extreme, extreme devastation".

But Michael's quick progress means it won't have a chance to trigger the same widespread, epic flooding as past slow-moving hurricanes such as Florence and Harvey, which unleashed seemingly endless rains after stalling and hovering inland.

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