Hurricane Michael Weakens to Category 1 Storm

Jo Lloyd
October 11, 2018

Michael, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, was the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit the Panhandle. The storm, which has sustained winds of 60 mph, was about 25 miles east of Macon, Ga., the National Hurricane Center said in a 2 a.m. ET advisory.

Hurricane Michael weakened to a Category 1 storm late Wednesday as it moved across south-central Georgia with maximum sustained winds of about 75 miles per hour. "There are warnings for more than 300 miles (480km) of coastline", the National Weather Service tweeted, predicting that Michael would become a "large and risky hurricane".

At least one person was killed, an official in Gadsden County west of the state capital Tallahassee told AFP, giving the first confirmed death from the powerful storm.

Almost 30 million people are in danger of being impacted by Michael, according to estimates.

"We are still in the midst of a Category 4 catastrophic and historic storm".

A view from the International Space Station of Hurricane Michael as it churns strikes the Panhandle of Northwest Florida on October 10, 2018, in Earth Orbit.

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.

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore.

The storm is expected to drop as much as 12 inches of rain in some areas of the state before continuing its path north into Georgia and moving northward into southeastern New England Thursday night and Friday. Emergency managers say they don't know how many left the area, but there were about 6000 people in 80 shelters in five states, including almost 1200 who are still in shelters following Hurricane Florence.

Michael is the strongest hurricane in terms of wind speed to strike the US mainland since Hurricane Andrew.

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

Tyndall Air Force Base, situated on a peninsula just south of Panama City, said that it took a "direct hit" from Hurricane Michael, according to a post published on their Facebook page.

But Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross said on Wednesday as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast had disregarded evacuation notices.

"I can not disappoint the thousands of people that are there - and the thousands that are going", he tweeted.

She said the incident was "debris-related". That is just two miles an hour shy of Category 5, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

"Oh my God, what are we seeing?" said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open. "We were scared looking at it coming in, but we got lucky".

"Storms are known to do this, but normally we see this happening when it's away from land", Matyas said.

As the hurricane moves out of Florida, Scott warned that flash floods and tornadoes are still possibilities and said "the weather is still extremely unsafe". "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.

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