Thousands without power; homes submerged following Hurricane Michael

Posted: Updated:

 

A potentially catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane Michael has made landfall as the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history, with its winds and storm surge wreaking havoc along the shore.

Michael's extremely dangerous center crossed near Florida's Mexico Beach on around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday with sustained winds of 155 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Video shows catastrophic flooding on Mexico Beach with houses almost completely submerged. 

 

 

A Red Cross official says it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.

Evacuation orders were sent by state and local officials to about 325,000 people. Emergency managers say they don't know how many left the area, but there were about 6,000 people in 80 shelters in five states.

 

Michael went from a tropical storm to a projected Category 3 hurricane in around six hours and could have caught thousands off guard.

The director of the National Hurricane Center says Michael is going to keep its strength even as it moves into Alabama and Georgia.

By 3 p.m. EDT, Michael still had top sustained winds of 150 mph as its core moved over Florida's Panhandle.

 

Hurricane center director Ken Graham says that when a storm comes ashore with winds that strong, "it's going to stay a hurricane for a while."

Michael's large size means its winds will continue pushing storm surge inland as well. The hurricane center said a National Ocean Service water level station in Apalachicola has reported storm surge of nearly 8 feet above ground.

 

Michael heads toward the Carolinas

Officials in South Carolina say they are more concerned about tornadoes than flooding from Hurricane Michael.

The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible across the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina through Thursday morning as Michael moves inland.

Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley says the tornadoes can spin up fast with little warning in the rainbands of the weakening hurricane.

South Carolina saw 47 tornadoes in two days in 2004 as Tropical Storm Frances move north from the Florida Panhandle.

Take a look at what Hurricane Michael looked like from the International Space Station.