Tyndall Air Force Base took a "direct hit" from Michael's Category 4 hurricane winds of up to 155 miles per hour, which caused significant structural damage and left the runway's use still in question, Air Force officials said in a statement.
It was, in other words, a hurricane: the product of multitudinous forces that blend heat, wind and moisture into a potent threat, with a whopping dose of chance thrown in.
Increasingly, climate change is part of the unsafe mix as well.
"This is really an incredible event", said Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.
The town was under a mandatory evacuation this week as the storm approached the coast. "It had the pedal to the metal all the way until it hit the coast", he said. "It's gone", said Brooke Baldwin, the CNN reporter in the video at the top of the article. The storm could leave wide swaths of the region powerless for weeks, he said.
General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.
Drawing energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm strengthened rapidly into a potentially devastating Category 3 by evening. The Florida health department had 80 ambulance strike teams and 400 ambulances ready, and the state is giving out two million meals and one million gallons of drinking water. There is evidence of higher sea surface temperature and atmospheric moisture.
Scott said he talked to Trump early Thursday.
Crews were out early Thursday searching for more victims.
Harvey and Michael didn't strengthen quite so much, so fast, but they rapidly intensified in the crucial hours before making their final continental US landfalls.
Tropical storm-force winds are expected to be in the area as soon as Tuesday night.
Even without the scientific calculations, he said, the connection makes intuitive sense. "So many lives have been changed forever". But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate. Modern models predicting warming have been borne out in thousands of studies showing phenomena like rising ocean temperatures and shrinking glaciers.
"I've never been through one this bad", said Jerry Nelson, who was born and raised outside Panama City, where winds ripped away bricks from the facade of the historic high school and mangled building after building.
The entire Florida Panhandle is under a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning.
But 24 hours later, Michael was already far stronger: It now had 140 mile per hour winds and a pressure falling sharply.
The town looked bruised, said Kathleen Troy, 57, as she and her husband walked their dog through dark streets, but not beaten.
It is the third-most-powerful storm on record to hit the US, and the worst in almost 50 years, since Hurricane Camille in 1969. Gale Berry, 59, said their neighborhood was littered with debris and downed trees after Hurricane Hermine, which made landfall in 2016 as a Category 1 storm.
Authorities are preparing to set up extra shelters and move people into more secure areas. "I don't suggest trying to ride out a storm". I know you just want to go home, you want to check on things and begin the recovery process.
He drew an analogy to our wardrobes.
"We ve been very cautious with sending our first responders out right now", she said. We are also working with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states.
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