Michael, the third most powerful hurricane ever to hit the USA mainland, weakened overnight to a tropical storm and pushed northeast on Thursday, bringing drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.
EMILY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Hurricane Michael will likely make landfall along the Gulf Coast today as a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
CNN video taken from a helicopter above Mexico Beach on Thursday morning showed entire blocks of structures that had been washed away by the storm surge that put the community underwater.
Roads were filled with piles of floating debris.
Farther inland, Tallahassee city officials were grappling with wind damage that had brought down numerous city's trees, blocking streets and knocking out power.
Hurricane Michael, a historic Category 4 storm, struck the Florida Panhandle early Wednesday afternoon, unleashing heavy rain, high winds and a devastating storm surge.
"Water will come miles in shore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses", he said. The agency said the storm's steady intensification over the past two days despite shifting westerly winds defies traditional logic.
The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and search-and-rescue crews struggled to reach the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who defied evacuation orders. It reached its zenith just around 2 p.m., when Michael, with its 155 miles per hour winds, breached the Panhandle coastline, a region known as a spring break destination, a military hotbed and one the last vestiges of Floridas struggling fishing industry.
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith near the vulnerable coast said his deputies had gone door to door in some places urging people to evacuate.
Research by Francis of Rutgers suggests that warming in the Arctic could be weakening the jet stream in ways that, in the summer, can deprive weather systems like hurricanes of the atmospheric push that keeps them moving; those factors, she said, may have been at play in the unusual pokiness of Harvey and Florence.
He said the hurricane is like "nothing he has ever seen before". "There was a tree involved".
Declarada zona catastrófica por las fuertes lluvias — Tragedia en Mallorca
De hecho, los servicios de emergencia transmitían sus mensajes en catalán balear, castellano, alemán e inglés. El Govern balear decretará tres días de duelo y pedirá al Ejecutivo la declaración de zona catastrófica .
General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.
Although Tallahassee avoided a direct hit from the Category 4 storm, Mayor Andrew Gillum said on Facebook that "our community has been pretty significantly impacted".
"Where that becomes a factor is with the evacuation of some of the local populations", he said.
Pensacola-based Gulf Power, which reported some 120,000 customers were in the dark at one point, said progress was made in its westernmost regions, but the hardest-hit areas may take weeks to rebuild.
At landfall, it was almost a Category 5 storm that smashed records as the strongest ever to roar onto the state's exposed Panhandle.
Michael is expected to leave the mainland United States by Friday morning.
More than 370,000 people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate and move to higher ground.
RICK SCOTT: Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle.
"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.
Red Cross officials say 7,800 people were in 100 shelters across three states.
More than 780,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday in the wake of the storm. "Panama City, I don't know if there will be much left". After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael entered south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane - the most powerful in recorded history for that part of the neighbouring state.
Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. "This is one of the most powerful storms".