Wind gusts up to 50 mph reported in Charleston from Tropical Storm Michael

Wind gusts up to 50 mph reported in Charleston from Tropical Storm Michael

Its gone: Mexico Beach, Fla., left in ruins by Hurricane Michael

Tropical Storm Michael is accelerating through Virginia with gusty winds and flooding rain. Extreme rainfall totals may occur in either of those states through early Friday as Michael swings out into the Atlantic. 

Michael made landfall as a catastrophic, unprecedented Florida Panhandle Category 4 hurricane early during the afternoon of Oct. 10. 

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Roofs had been peeled off. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees. Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet (7 meters) high.

Hurricane Michael intensified right up to its landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, around 12:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday as a high-end Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars.

The state mental hospital in Chattahoochee, which has a section for the criminally insane, was cut off by land, and food and supplies were being flown in, authorities said. All phone contact was cut off to the complex of nearly 1,000 residents and more than 300 staff, leaving them only with emergency radios to reach the outside world.

Michael was the third most intense continental U.S. landfall by pressure and fourth strongest by maximum sustained winds on record. Michael was also the most intense Florida Panhandle landfall on record, the first Category 4 hurricane to do so in records dating to the mid-19th century.

Linda Marquardt, 67, rode out the storm with her husband at their home in Mexico Beach. When the house filled with storm surge water, they fled upstairs. “All of my furniture was floating,” she said. “”A river just started coming down the road. It was awful, and now there’s just nothing left.”

The National Hurricane Center's Storm Surge Unit, estimated peak storm surge inundation of 9 to 14 feet above ground likely occurred from Mexico Beach through Apalachee Bay, a location notorious for storm surge even from less intense tropical cyclones. 

In North Carolina’s mountains, motorists had to be rescued from cars trapped by high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power in the central Piedmont region. Flash flooding also was reported in North Carolina’s two largest cities, Charlotte and Raleigh.

10 a.m. update: Tornado watch issued as Michael threatens NC

Michael's storm surge produced a peak inundation of 7.72 feet above ground level at Apalachicola, Florida, Wednesday afternoon, smashing the previous record of 6.43 feet above ground set during Hurricane Dennis in July 2005. 

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home. One of the carport’s legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his car.

Peak inundation of 5.31 feet above ground at Panama City, Florida, was second only to Hurricane Opal in 1995. Cedar Key, Florida, saw peak inundation of just over 4 feet Wednesday afternoon.

At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasn’t done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

An observing site near Tyndall Air Force Base, east of Panama City, measured a wind gust to 129 mph early Wednesday afternoon, and a gust to 107 mph was reported 1 mile south of Panama City.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane’s landfall, mostly from coastal homes. Nine people had to be rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of a home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

At one time, it was estimated over 200 roads in the city of Tallahassee were blocked by fallen trees.

Tropical Storm Michael swept out of Georgia before sunrise Thursday, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The powerful storm claimed the life of an 11-year-old girl in southwest Georgia, which appeared to have borne the brunt of Michael’s wrath. Utility crews around the state scrambled to restore power to more than 300,000 customers.

Hurricane damage maroons Florida mental hospital

A weather reporting station deployed by Weatherflow and the University of Florida measured a surface pressure from 920-929 millibars, an extraordinarily low pressure to measure on U.S. soil, before it was toppled, according to Shea Gibson, WeatherFlow, Inc. meteorologist.

Farmers surveyed their destroyed crops, now valued at $1 billion, and many say it will also cost them their livelihoods. At least 53 poultry houses were wiped out in Coffee, Houston, Mitchell, Wilcox and Decatur counties, officials said.

Video: Record-breaking hurricane slams Florida Panhandle

Florida: Too soon for homeowners to return to disaster zone

Michael also shattered Panama City's all-time low pressure record, which had stood from Hurricane Kate in 1985. 

Video: Aftermath of Hurricane Michael leaves Panama City residents stunned

Coastal towns in Florida Panhandle devastated like a war zone after Michael

– Florida: 129 mph at Tyndall AFB; 89 mph in Apalachicola; 71 mph in Tallahassee- Alabama: 68 mph in Dothan- Georgia: 115 mph in Donalsonville; 70 mph in Albany- South Carolina: 55 mph in Myrtle Beach; 52 mph near Charleston

Winds gusted to 50-55 mph, at times, in Augusta, Georgia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Thursday morning. There have been a number of reports of trees and power lines downed in eastern Georgia and South Carolina, including in the Columbia metro area.

Rainfall from Michael has now topped 6 inches in a few locations, but has been held down somewhat, primarily due to Michael's more rapid forward movement compared to Florence. Here are some notable rainfall totals by state:

Holden Beach in Brunswick County also sustained minimal damage from Michael’s tides and winds, Mayor Alan Holden said. Holden toured the beach strand about 2 p.m. and said some boardwalks had been washed out on the west end, but the beach had otherwise weathered the storm.

Video: Help From South Florida Is On The Way

20 People Found Safe in Town Where Hurricane Michael Made Landfall as Aerial Footage Shows Unimaginable Destruction

– Florida: 5.26 inches at Sumatra; 3.17 inches in Tallahassee; 2.61 inches in Panama City- Alabama: 5.54 inches in Ozark; 4.92 inches in Dothan; 1.60 inches in Montgomery- Georgia: 6.48 inches near Powder Springs; 3.37 inches in Macon- South Carolina: 6.01 inches near Hartsville; 4.47 inches in Columbia- North Carolina: 9.62 inches near Black Mountain; 6.75 inches near Boone; 2.95 inches in Asheville- Virginia: 5.75 inches near White Gate; 1.40 inches in Blacksburg

Unlike Florence, which drenched the region while moving as slow as 2 mph, the remnants of Michael moved around or slightly above 20 mph throughout Thursday. The storm’s speed meant limited impact from rain in the Wilmington region.

Video: Help From South Florida Is On The Way

Flooding was also reported on Interstate 26 and the Interstate 126 interchange on the northwest side of Columbia early Thursday morning. Ten homes were flooded in Irmo, South Carolina, requiring some evacuations.

The region’s heaviest rains from Michael were recorded around Belville, with 2.64 inches, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), but the 0.57 inches in southwest Leland and 0.35 inches in Wilmington were more typical.

In North Carolina, a swift water rescue was needed due to flooding near Old Fort, and significant street flooding was reported in Hendersonville and Boone.

Michael first developed as Tropical Depression Fourteen on Oct. 7 east of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

In Surf City, where debris from stairs and boardwalks remained scattered across the strand, Mayor Doug Medlin Thursday morning said the impacts were limited to some minor overwash on the town’s north end.

Michael rapidly intensified from a tropical depression to Category 1 hurricane in just 24 hours ending 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 8.

Michael continued to intensify right up to landfall, exhibiting eyewall lightning as it pushed to high-end Category 4 status slamming ashore in the Florida Panhandle.

Row after row of beachfront homes were so obliterated by Michaels surging seas and howling winds that only slabs of concrete in the sand remain, a testament that this was ground zero when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. The destruction in this and other communities dotting the white-sand beaches is being called catastrophic — and it will need billions of dollars to rebuild.

Changed Forever: Florida Panhandle devastated by Michael

Michael arrived in southwestern Georgia early Wednesday evening as a Category 3 major hurricane, the first hurricane of that strength to track into Georgia since the Georgia Hurricane of 1898, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University.

Linda Marquardt rode out Hurricane Michael with her husband at their home in Mexico Beach. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs. Now their home is full of mud and everywhere they look theres utter devastation in their Florida Panhandle community: fishing boats tossed like toys, roofs lifted off of buildings and pine trees snapped like matchsticks in 155 mph winds.

CNNs Brooke Baldwin struggled to find the words to describe the devastation left by Hurricane Michael as she flew in a helicopter above Mexico Beach, Fla., on Thursday morning.

Its gone. Its gone, Baldwin said before her cameraman panned to long rows of leveled homes below. Its — its obliterated.

Nothing Left: Devastating Drone Footage Shows Mexico Beach, FL After Hurricane Michael

The small beachfront community, located about 40 miles south of Panama City, Fla., was where the Category 4 storm made landfall on Wednesday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph below the threshold of Category 5. It was the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the third strongest ever to strike the U.S. mainland.

Wind shear weakens storms. Hurricane Michael just shrugged it off.

Good god. This footage from @BrookeBCNN. Mexico Beach, Florida is “gone” after Michael. pic.twitter.com/Fj3l6SYeFZ

In North Carolinas mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Flash flooding also was reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seaward.

At least two people died in the storm, and federal officials fear the death toll could rise as search and rescue crews begin to assess the damage.

Roads to Mexico Beach were virtually impassable, so Baldwin, who spent the night in nearby Destin, Fla., chartered a chopper to get the view from above. Fires could be seen burning in the distance, homes shredded and boats strewn across the town of about 1,100 people.

WHATS HAPPENING: Carolinas next in line for Michaels fury | WSOC-TV

Its just awful to look at, Baldwin told viewers before her feed cut out. It was bad in Panama City Beach, but Ive never seen anything like this … I have no words.

Michael ripped through Florida Panhandle like a freight train, resident says

A Tampa Bay Times reporter and a photojournalist who managed to make it to Mexico Beach on the ground early Thursday described what they saw:

Rescuers look for survivors after Michael obliterates Florida beach town

Homes completely destroyed. Refrigerators and toilets where the storm left them. Thousands of two-by-fours, chewed up and indecipherable. Refrigerators, toilets, staircases to nowhere and front doors 10 feet up with no way down. The neighborhoods along U.S. 98 looked like a childs playroom after a massive tantrum.

Hurricane Michael: Where the storm is now, what we know about damage

More than 180,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were under mandatory evacuation orders. And while many heeded those orders, some did not.

At least four survivors were discovered by the Tampa Bay Times reporters, including a woman and a man who were looking for help with their mothers portable oxygen machine.

Slideshow: Aerial photos show the devastation left in the path of Hurricane Michael >>>


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