In Panama City Beach, a building that was still under construction didn't stand a chance against Michael. But hurricanes can also be measured by their barometric pressure: generally speaking, the lower the pressure, the more intense the storm.
Only three major hurricanes Category 3 or higher have hit the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.
Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the most powerful hurricane to blow ashore on the United States mainland since Camille in 1969.
Michael formed quickly, only reaching hurricane strength on Monday, giving Floridians little time to prepare. A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported almost 5.5 feet of inundation above ground level.
Hurricane Michael is strengthening as it races over the Gulfof Mexico approaching a landfall along Florida's Panhandle. By 8 a.m. Tuesday, top winds had reached 100 miles per hour (155 kph), and it was forecast to strengthen into a "major" Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of more than 111 miles per hour (179 kph).
Most hurricanes are good at producing tornadoes because they cause a lot of vertical shear - or differences in wind direction and speed at different heights.
The authorities warned that it was too late to flee the storm, which the National Hurricane Centre described as "potentially catastrophic". A National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola recently reported over 5 feet of inundation above ground level.
Some of the worst storm surge from Category 4 HurricaneMichael is expected to hit Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, which has ordered all non-essential personnel to evacuate.
"Panama City, I don't know if there will be much left". The NHC forecasts up to 8 inches for the panhandle, southeast Alabama, and parts of southwest and central Georgia. Heavy rainfall will drench Florida's Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia and SC; up to 12 inches is possible in isolated locations.
After landfall as a Category 4 storm, Michael will march northeast through the southeast US and remain at least a Category 1 storm well into Georgia.
Tropical storm watches and warnings were raised along the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon.
The Suncoast already experienced some flooding Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday due to the high ride combined with storm surge from Michael.
Top winds were swirling at 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour, with the NHC warning the storm could grow stronger still, as outer rain bands from the storm lashed the coast.
At 5 a.m., the major hurricane was holding maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.
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Hurricane Hunters flew into Michael early this morning and found that it's becoming more organized. Michael was moving north-northeast at 3 miles per hour off Yucatan Peninsula as of the 5 p.m.
Hurricane Michael may affect Sumter area later this week
Storm surge is not much of a concern because forecasters expect the hurricane to move quickly across the state, Martin said. The eye of the storm was 30 miles west of Bainbridge, Ga., and 70 miles southwest of Albany, Ga., as of the NHC's 4 p.m.
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