Hurricane Michael damage pictures: Horrifying scenes as Hurricane FLATTENS Florida homes

"Risky hurricane-force winds will also extend well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland", the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday morning.

If Hurricane Florence was a slow-motion train wreck, Hurricane Michael is a 4-ton wrecking ball.

There is "one hurricane-related fatality", said Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, adding that the incident was "debris-related".

Michael's conditions are similar to those of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas previous year as a Category 4 storm that packed 130 miles per hour winds and left 68 people dead.

Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.

A possible catastrophic landfall with destructive storm surge, winds and rain on the Florida Panhandle near Panama City is now predicted around 3 p.m. All the way up to the Carolinas, destructive flooding from the storm's rains is expected.

Its sustained winds were just 3.2km/h shy of an extremely rare Category 5. They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years. That makes Michael the third-strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States and the strongest in almost 50 years.

Damage in Panama City was extensive, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down almost everywhere.

The National Hurricane Center said Michael would pass through the Carolinas, dumping as much as 20cm of rain in some areas.

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Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind Andrew in 1992, Camille, and the biggest one of all, an unnamed 1935 Labor Day storm that had winds of 296kph.

The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible across the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and southern SC through Thursday morning as the hurricane now moves inland. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S.in almost 50 years and at least one death was reported during its passage.

Brian Bon inspects damages in the Panama City downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Panama City.

"I'm anxious about my daughter and grandbaby".

The evacuation order remains in effect until further notice.

Governor Rick Scott announced that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. He acknowledged that a lot of the residents in the area were poor and said it was probably tough to leave. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".

President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Florida, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of FEMA, which has more than 3,000 people on the ground.

It appeared to be so powerful that it was expected to remain a hurricane as it moves into Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires.

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