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.
Another impact lingering into Friday will be flights, with American Airlines canceling its first three flights out of Wilmington International Airport. Gary Broughton, the airport’s deputy director, said the first American flight to depart will be at 7:09 a.m. to Charlotte. As of 4 p.m., Delta planned to announce on a normal schedule and United had not made a final decision.
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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.
In the state’s southeastern corner, additional winds caused some minor damage, with debris blowing off at least one downtown Wilmington building and the Cape Fear River spilling onto Water Street. Area beaches reported little to no additional damage along beach strands that sustained erosion during Florence.
10 a.m. update: Tornado watch issued as Michael threatens NC
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.
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.
Florida surveys damage as Michael inundates the Carolinas
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.
Michael Imapcts: Virginia declares state of emergency with flooding, tornado threat
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.
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.
Video: Aftermath of Hurricane Michael leaves Panama City residents stunned
At one time, it was estimated over 200 roads in the city of Tallahassee were blocked by fallen trees.
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.
Michael also shattered Panama City's all-time low pressure record, which had stood from Hurricane Kate in 1985.
– 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
Michael kills six and wipes out Florida beach town
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:
Trees downed across capital city: In Tallahassee, the power loss from Michael surpassed the loss from Hermine over two years ago, according to Mayor Andrew Gillum. He said about 110,000 homes and businesses were without power in the city Thursday morning and that one of the city's sewer systems failed. He urged patience and optimism from residents as the city works through its recovery. "I'm counting our many, many blessings. This storm for us certainly was not as bad for us as it could have been."
– 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
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.
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.
Michael officially stronger than Katrina at landfall
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.
Michael was as powerful as it was unexpected, careening across the Gulf of Mexico and intensifying rapidly into a powerhouse. The night before the hurricane hit, police told Georgia Wells, 35, that she and her family were in a safe zone here in Springfield in a public housing complex. By Wednesday afternoon, shortly before landfall, it was clear they were in terrible danger.
Video: Hurricane Michael survivor describes storms strength
Nearly 500,000 without power in Carolinas after Michael sweeps through
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.
Video: Hurricane Michael survivor describes storms strength
Dawn Vickers, left, her mother Patsy Vickers, son Ryder Vickers, and friend Robert Brock, right, who rode out Hurricane Michael in their now-destroyed home, sit in front of a damaged convenience store with nowhere to go, in Michael's aftermath, in Mexico Beach, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Their house floated away from its foundation in the storm and they escaped the water by wading through a window. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Residents of Mexico Beach that stayed during the storm are emerging from the debris with harrowing tales. Others, who evacuated, are coming to grips with the fact that much of their community was destroyed by Hurricane Michael.
Robin Ford, who co-owns 4C BBQ Family Restaurant in Defuniak Springs, was helping feed hundreds of first responders with a giant smoker on Thursday, handing out brisket, steaks and pulled pork. His restaurant is about 45 miles northwest of Panama City, and the area has become a staging ground for first responders.
Hit head-on by the storm, numerous homes in this Gulf Coast resort town of about 1,190 people were shattered or ripped from their foundations. Boats were tossed like toys. The streets closest to the water looked as if a bomb had gone off.
“Wow! This one we weren’t expecting,” said Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at the risk consultancy Aon, who works with insurance agencies to analyze natural disaster risk. He said Michael broke many rules because it “maintained hurricane intensity nearly 200 miles inland.”
Goc. Rick Scott sees Hurricane Michaels wrath from above
Now, rescuers and residents are struggling to get into the ground-zero town to assess the damage and search for the hundreds of people believed to have stayed behind.
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 Thursday. A river just started coming down the road. It was awful, and now theres just nothing left.
Drone footage of Mexico Beach showed a stunning landscape of devastation. Few structures were unscathed.
Hurricane Michael all but erased the tiny community of Mexico Beach on Florida's Gulf Coast, reducing some homes to mere concrete slabs and leaving others in shreds.
John Humphress, a storm chaser and drone pilot, arrived around 5 p.m. Wednesday, a few hours after Michael slammed into the coastline. He had one word to describe what he saw: apocalyptic.
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State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.
A National Guard team went into the area and found 20 survivors Wednesday night, and more crews pushed into the stricken zone on Thursday. The fate of many other residents was unknown, authorities said.
Hurricane Michael leaves unimaginable destruction
Dawn Vickers, her teenage son, and her mother, didnt evacuate. They were joined during the storm by a friend who lived on a houseboat. At one particularly violent point in the storm, Vickers looked out the window and thought a tree was moving — but it was really her house, ripped off the foundation.
Separately, advocacy groups in Georgia have filed a lawsuit after reports that Brian Kemp, the secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor, stalled more than 53,000 voter registrations, including a disproportionately high number of black voters.
An Associated Press reporter found Vickers and her family sitting next to a convenience store with blown-out windows Thursday.
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Our house would have probably been in the canal if it hadnt gotten caught on some trees that fell, said 17-year-old Ryder Vickers, adding that the home split in two, like an egg.
Once the water receded, they climbed out a window, onto another house and over a boat, but because Dawn Vickers mother Patsy has a lung disease, they couldnt go far. The four spent the night in one half of the waterlogged home.
Ive never been so scared in my life, said Dawn Vickers. We were all praying, Just please get us through this. I thought we were going to die.
Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband looked for the elderly mother of a friend on Thursday. The woman lived in a small cinderblock house about 150 yards (140 meters) from the Gulf and thought she would be OK.
Aggy! Aggy! McPherson yelled. The only sound that came back was the echo from the half-demolished building and the pounding of the surf.
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As she walked down the street, McPherson pointed out pieces of what had been the womans house: Thats the blade from her ceiling fan. Thats her floor tile.
The Rev. Eddie LaFountain, pastor at First Baptist Church in Mexico Beach, was one of them. He described the place as a good family resort town that attracts visitors seeking peace and quiet rather than the spring break-like atmosphere of other communities along the 200-mile (320-kilometer) Florida Panhandle.
More than a third of the population of Mexico Beach is 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census, and nearly half of the housing is for seasonal or recreational use.
Most of the full-time residents, LaFountain said, have some connection to the hospitality industry. Some operate vacation home rentals, while others work jobs cleaning and maintaining the homes. Others own or work in restaurants, rent out kayaks or run charter fishing boats. LaFountain himself has a lawn-mowing business.
I think the people here have a great heart and a lot of resilience. We call them stubborn and hard-headed. I think they will be back, LaFountain said in a phone interview while driving back to Mexico Beach.
Mexico Beach is on the west end of what is sometimes called Floridas Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like many of the states other shoreline areas, with their lavish homes and high-rise condos and hotels.
U.S. Route 98 runs right along the coast, where a few beachside restaurants offer oysters and other seafood, cocktails and a view of the Gulf of Mexico.
Michael charges into Southeast after slamming north Florida | WSB-TV
Bob Tenbrunesels home in Mexico Beach was damaged but not destroyed. On Thursday, he rode around town in the back of a pickup truck, surveying the damage. It was upsetting to see all of the places that he loved destroyed: Toucans Bar and Grill, Killer Seafood, Catheys Hardware and Tackle.
Tamara Lush reported from St. Petersburg, Florida; Brendan Farrington from Tallahassee, Florida; and Curt Anderson from Miami.