A fast and furious Hurricane Michael is speeding toward the Florida Panhandle with 120 miles per hour winds and a potential storm surge of 13 feet, giving tens of thousands of people precious little time to get out or board up. Authorities were also searching for a boy swept away by a river in Guatemala.
After Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday, lashing the Florida Panhandle and Georgia, communities have been left to deal with life-threatening conditions and "unprecedented impacts". A councilwoman from there issued an urgent plea to anyone thinking of returning. As flooding gets worse and worse, more dots will turn blue.
A storm is designated a Category 1 hurricane if it reaches speeds of 74 miles per hour (119 kph) or more, and a Category 3 hurricane at 111 miles per hour (178 kph) or more on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.
"There's a pile", McPherson said as they searched for signs of life.
Catastrophic scenes have emerged across the Florida Panhandle, but none perhaps worse than in Mexico Beach, described as ground zero of the devastation.
Michael ripped apart beach homes and boats, she said. "When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home". "We had furniture in our house that wasn t even our furniture". The walls had collapsed and "the only thing I could find of ours was my briefcase", he said. All the stores, all the restaurants, everything.
The beach town looked like it had been carpet bombed, with little left in the first blocks from the beach. As far as she could see, only one home was still intact.
The students and staff at Jinks Middle School have dealt with disaster before.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long said Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since record keeping began in 1851. "We're working diligently to get to everyone as quickly as we can". The city was also dealing with downed power lines, fallen trees and power outages.
In Seminole County, Georgia, a metal car-shelter lifted by a gust of wind hit a mobile home, killing a girl of 11.
The marina her brother owns is submerged, she said. The second floor of some apartments are just gone. Roads were impassable and canals were choked with debris. The center of Michael is expected to cross into southeastern Virginia close to midnight and then move into the western Atlantic Ocean overnight. Most of the rain was blamed on a low-pressure system off the Pacific coast, but Hurricane Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed.
While Florence took five days between the time it turned into a hurricane and the moment it rolled into the Carolinas, Michael gave Florida what amounted to two days' notice. It then roared north through southwest Georgia and on Thursday moved into North and SC, states that are still reeling from historic flooding left by Hurricane Florence last month.
"We don't know where she's at", he said.
Despite the storm, Trump went to his Wednesday night rally in Pennsylvania, telling reporters beforehand, "We have thousands of people lined up".
Michael's strength may reflect the effect of climate change on storms.
Human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. He rode out the storm because he didn't think it was going to be so bad.
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According to CNN , Hurricane Michael left more than 350,000 with power and neighborhoods damaged after hitting near Mexico beach. An 80-mile stretch of Interstate 10, the main east-west highway along the panhandle, was closed. 'It's absolutely horrendous.
Michael's minimum central pressure - a key measure of hurricane strength - was measured at 919 millibars when it made landfall. Characterized by strong winds and heavy rainfall, the hurricane of 1930 caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic.
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Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge. The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.
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