Hurricane Michael slams into Florida, charges into Southeast

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its destructive charge inland across the Southeast. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years and at least one death was reported during its passage.

Posted: Oct 10, 2018 11:30 PM

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its destructive charge inland across the Southeast. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years and at least one death was reported during its passage.

Supercharged by abnormally warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a 200-mile (320-kilometer) stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases.

After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael barreled into south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane — the most powerful ever recorded for that part of the neighboring state. It later weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, and there were reports it spawned possible tornadoes in central Georgia.

In north Florida, Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles. It set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 388,000 homes and businesses.

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing inland across the Southeast. St. Marks is one of the communities hit by flooding. (Oct. 10)

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The man wasn’t immediately identified.

Damage in Panama City was extensive, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled off and homes split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Residents emerged in the early evening to assess damage when rains stopped, though skies were still overcast and windy.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her apartment, Spring Gate Apartments, a small complex of single-story wood frame apartment buildings. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and he said the roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the winds accelerated. Their ears even popped as the barometric pressure dropped.

“It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time. We had the inside windows kind of barricaded in with mattresses,” Beu said.

Kaylee O’Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, nearly hitting two people. Her 1-year-old Siamese cat, Molly, was missing.

“We haven’t seen her since the tree hit the den. She’s my baby,” O’Brien said, her face wet with tears.

In Apalachicola, Sally Crown rode out the storm in her house. The worst damage — she thought — was in her yard. Multiple trees were down. But after the storm passed, she drove to check on the cafe she manages and saw breathtaking destruction.

“It’s absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic,” Crown said. “There’s flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered.”

Gov. Rick Scott announced soon after the powerful eye had swept inland that “aggressive” search and rescue efforts would get underway as conditions allow. He urged people to stay off debris-littered roads.

“If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly,” he said.

Michael was a meteorological brute that sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. It was the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in. But the fast-moving, fast-strengthening storm didn’t give people much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

Diane Farris, 57, and her son walked to a high school-turned-shelter near their Panama City home, where about 1,100 people crammed into a space meant for about half as many. Neither she nor her son had any way to communicate because their lone cellphone got wet and quit working.

“I’m worried about my daughter and grandbaby. I don’t know where they are. You know, that’s hard,” she said, choking back tears.

In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express. Part of the awning fell and shattered the glass front door of the hotel, and the rest of the awning wound up on vehicles parked below it.

“Oh my God, what are we seeing?” said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open. The hotel swimming pool had whitecaps.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Michael’s center at the height of the storm. Forecasters said rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimeters) in spots. And then there was the life-threatening storm surge.

A water-level station in Apalachicola, close to where Michael came ashore, reported a surge of nearly 8 feet (2.4 meters).

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence’s epic flooding.

At the White House, President Donald Trump said, “God bless everyone because it’s going to be a rough one,” he said. “A very dangerous one.” His office said he would tour the devastated areas next week.

In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber. The lead-gray water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

Hours earlier, meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.

“We are in new territory,” National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. But without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

And with Election Day less than a month away, the crisis was seen as a test of leadership for Scott, a Republican running for the Senate, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum , the Democratic nominee for governor. Just as Northern politicians are judged on how they handle snowstorms, their Southern counterparts are watched closely for how they deal with hurricanes.

___

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Fla.; Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Fla.; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Md., contributed to this story.

___

For the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 75°
Robinson
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 69°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 76°
Brazil
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Partly Cloudy, Warm & Muggy
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

TH Rex drop 11th straight

Image

New mural, honoring veterans, on the way to downtown Terre Haute

Image

The need for plasma donations

Image

Broadband survey results find need of expanded coverage in Knox County

Image

Mental health and sports

Image

Accused Michigan prison escapee arrested in the Wabash Valley

Image

What do the new CDC masking guidelines mean for us?

Image

Kevin talks storms followed by a cool down

Image

Redistricting in Indiana

Image

CDC announces new mask guidelines

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1413490

Reported Deaths: 25847
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook56254010557
DuPage936411321
Will779841042
Lake691321026
Kane60062816
Winnebago34671524
Madison32372533
St. Clair29976526
McHenry29561299
Peoria23690346
Champaign21566158
Sangamon19585245
McLean18846194
Tazewell17470308
Rock Island15375329
Kankakee14741224
Kendall13481100
LaSalle12954254
Macon11177215
DeKalb10270122
Vermilion10224154
Adams9557128
Williamson8117138
Whiteside7244174
Boone693380
Ogle629184
Grundy605579
Clinton590693
Coles5868101
Knox5728157
Jackson543565
Henry515270
Macoupin497090
Livingston494193
Woodford491883
Stephenson488086
Franklin485878
Effingham482674
Marion4761118
Jefferson4662123
Monroe451494
Randolph430387
Lee423754
Morgan412592
Fulton410559
Logan407066
Christian394275
Bureau384987
Montgomery384274
Iroquois329468
Perry328262
Fayette326856
McDonough305851
Jersey278752
Saline270657
Douglas263536
Union249041
Lawrence244627
Shelby235938
Crawford218026
Bond213624
Cass210327
Carroll204837
Pike200353
Ford194050
Hancock193732
Clark190434
Wayne189653
Warren186450
Jo Daviess183524
Richland181440
White180226
Edgar179742
Washington169225
Moultrie167928
Mason163547
De Witt161129
Piatt155814
Johnson154516
Clay154043
Greene152834
Mercer151734
Wabash147612
Massac143240
Cumberland131019
Menard127912
Jasper116818
Marshall110319
Hamilton89516
Schuyler8127
Brown8086
Pulaski7407
Stark66425
Edwards63512
Calhoun5382
Henderson53414
Gallatin5044
Scott5031
Putnam4943
Alexander48911
Hardin39612
Pope3394
Unassigned632432
Out of IL120

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 767409

Reported Deaths: 13980
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1054251805
Lake569191030
Allen42938698
St. Joseph37313568
Hamilton37298426
Elkhart29749470
Tippecanoe23479230
Vanderburgh23201405
Porter19573327
Johnson18822392
Hendricks18072321
Madison13548346
Clark13533198
Vigo12834256
LaPorte12566225
Monroe12546178
Delaware11143198
Howard10672237
Kosciusko9777124
Hancock8740150
Bartholomew8262157
Warrick8069157
Floyd8027182
Grant7366181
Wayne7233201
Boone7184105
Morgan6910143
Marshall6332116
Dubois6274118
Cass6090111
Dearborn601278
Noble599290
Henry5947111
Jackson516377
Shelby510898
Lawrence4922127
Gibson462696
Montgomery458192
Clinton455255
DeKalb455285
Harrison453577
Whitley415745
Huntington415582
Steuben410660
Miami405573
Jasper401155
Knox388391
Putnam385062
Wabash369083
Adams352956
Ripley351271
Jefferson341886
White339654
Daviess3090100
Wells303581
Greene293485
Decatur292593
Fayette286364
Posey281735
Scott280058
LaGrange277572
Clay273348
Washington254037
Randolph247783
Jennings239449
Spencer238731
Fountain235250
Starke229859
Owen222659
Sullivan221343
Fulton208345
Jay202932
Carroll197322
Orange191156
Perry189739
Vermillion180844
Rush177527
Tipton172747
Franklin171935
Parke155216
Pike141734
Blackford138032
Pulaski123648
Newton123036
Benton109715
Brown106043
Crawford105616
Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8348
Union73610
Ohio58111
Unassigned0428