Hurricane “Michael” leaves 6 dead, widespread destruction and 1.5 million homes without power, US

Hurricane “Michael” made landfall in Florida Panhandle around 17:00 UTC on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, leaving at least 6 people dead and 1.5 million homes without power. “It was like an atomic bomb,” one resident said. Michel is now the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in Florida Panhandle and one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit U.S. mainland. 

Michael had maximum sustained winds of 249 km/h (155 mph) at the time of landfall, making it a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. 

This made Michael the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in Florida Panhandle and one of the most powerful ever to hit U.S. mainland. The storm was moving NNE at 22 km/h (14 mph) immediately before landfall, with minimum central pressure of 919 hPa. 

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According to the NHC, the storm is a “worst-case scenario” for the region.

“A Category 4 hurricane has never struck that part of Florida,” said AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss. “The coastline will be changed for decades.”

At least 6 people have been killed. Four in Florida’s Gadsden County as a result of the hurricane, one man was killed on Highway 64, east of Statesville, North Carolina when a large tree fell on his vehicle. The sixth victim is a child in Lake Seminole, Georgia after a tree crushed a house.

According to the AP, the U.S. Coast Guard has rescued 27 people from damaged homes along the coast of Florida.

North Carolina emergency officials said that multiple water rescues have occurred in at least two counties (Henderson and McDowell).

Some 1.5 million homes and businesses in the Southeast were without power late Thursday, October 11. 

As of 10:00 UTC on October 12, there are more than 1.53 million homes without power – 559 315 in Virginia, 496 828 in North Carolina, 288 549 in Florida, 166 599 in Georgia and 25 595 in Alabama.

One of Michael’s survivors said his city “looks like an atomic bomb” hit it. Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach, Florida, where the hurricane crashed ashore, CBS reports.

Michael is a storm-force post-tropical low as of 09:00 UTC on October 12. It is expected to reach tropical storm status again as it races across the Atlantic toward Europe.

Storm surge flooding along the North Carolina coast, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, should diminish today, NHC said.

Gale winds may continue for a few more hours over portions of southeastern Virginia, the southern Chesapeake Bay, and the Delmarva Peninsula. 

Michael is expected to produce 25 – 75 mm (1 to 3 inches) of rain from New Jersey to Long Island to Cape Cod, and 75 – 127 mm (3 to 5 inches) over Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard through this afternoon. This rainfall could lead to flash flooding.

Elsewhere, flooding and flash flooding may continue where Michael produced heavy rain very recently in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states.

Rainfall totals of 25 – 75 mm (1 to 3 inches) are expected across the coastal northern Mid-Atlantic and southern New England.

Featured image: Mexico Beach, FL after Hurricane “Michael” – October 2018. Credit: John Humphress

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