Hurricane Michael made landfall around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, just north of Mexico Beach, as a Category 4 storm with 155 miles per hour sustained winds - just 1 miles per hour below the threshold for a Category 5 designation. In the D.C. area, its effects are a few days off and should be limited.
The NHC said: "On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move through eastern Georgia into central SC this morning, then moves across portions of central and eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean by late tonight or early Friday". Expect wind gusts of 35-50 miles per hour but higher in severe weather.
Ricketts called for Michael to be a tropical depression, or a post-tropical depression, by the time it gets to the WTOP listening area, and to be pushed off the coast of Virginia by the cold front.
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.
Michael is now a tropical storm and, as of Thursday morning, was pushing its way across SC - while also lashing North Carolina and Virginia with strong winds and heavy rains amid a tornado threat.
Michael, the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle since the mid-1800s, immediately left a trail of destruction as it tore down buildings and submerged neighborhoods.
In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber. A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported almost 5.5 feet of inundation above ground level. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.
Regardless of Hurricane Michael's ultimate classification, those in the path of the storm are facing life-threatening winds, storm surge and other unsafe conditions. The roar from the hurricane sounded like an airplane taking off. According to The Weather Channel, no Category 4 hurricane in historical records dating back to 1851 has ever made landfall in the region.
National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen added: "We are in new territory". "We didn't think it was going to be this bad".
Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.
As Michael exploded in power overnight, the expected inland effect of the storm became more expansive.
As winds started to topple trees in Tallahassee, one of them landed on Joe Marino's chimney.
After Michael left the Panhandle late Wednesday, 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. Michael is now positioned 60 miles south-southwest of Panama City.
It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 101 centimeters of rain. Soon enough, Mexico Beach's emerald waters and white sugar-sand beaches were covered in a dark sea of splintered debris, she said.
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