Fiercest In 80 Years
Michael storm mauls US south-east
PANAMA CITY, Oct 11: Hurricane Michael, the third most powerful storm ever to strike the US mainland, headed northeast on Thursday, weakened but still set to soak Georgia and the Carolinas after devastating the Florida Panhandle.
The Category 4 hurricane was the fiercest to hit Florida in 80 years when it came ashore on Wednesday, but its strength waned as it pushed into Georgia. Early on Thursday, it was downgraded to a tropical storm, with top sustained winds diminishing to 60 miles per hour.
More than 700,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Alabama and Georgia early Thursday. Thousands hunkered down in shelters overnight after fleeing their homes to escape the fast-approaching storm.
The storm, packing sustained winds that reached 155 miles per hour, clobbered communities across the Panhandle, toppling buildings, downing trees and power lines and turning streets into roof-high waterways, television footage showed.
Michael rapidly intensified as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico and caught many by surprise. The storm made landfall on Wednesday afternoon near Mexico Beach, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Panama City. The governors of North and South Carolina urged residents to brace for heavy rain and storm-force winds as Michael plowed northward up the Atlantic seaboard. The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence less than a month ago. -REUTERS