Thursday, October 18, 2018

Daily Updates

Deadly storm bashes Fla.

At least 1 dead, widespread destruction left inits powerful wake

  • Tropical-Weather-37

    The Oceanis is grounded by a tidal surge at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • Tropical-Weather-1-19

    Storm Surge retreats from inland areas, foreground, where boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • APTOPIX-Tropical-Weather-2-1

    Haley Nelson inspects the damage to her family properties Wednesday in Panama City, Fla., after Hurricane Michael made landfall. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its march inland.

    Associated Press

  • Tropical-Weather-3-19

    Brian Bon inspects damages in the Panama City downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its march inland. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

    Pedro Portal

  • Tropical-Weather-4-15

    This photo shows a McDonald's restaurant damaged after Hurricane Michael went through the area in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its march inland. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

    Pedro Portal

  • Tropical-Weather-5-17

    Boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • Tropical-Weather-6-15

    A marina warehouse is damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • Tropical-Weather-7-13

    Kaylee O'Brian cries as she's unable to find her cat after several trees fell on her now-destroyed home during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-8-16

    Kaylee O'Brian weeps inside her home after several trees fell on it during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-9-16

    Port St. Joe Lodge No. 111 lay in ruins after Hurricane Michael made landfall, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • APTOPIX-Tropical-Weather-10

    Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O'Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-11-13

    A man walks in the street of his heavily damaged neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-12-12

    People walk through downed trees in a heavily damaged neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-13-14

    Tamiya Waldon looks out at the damage to her neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • APTOPIX-Tropical-Weather-14

    Dorian Carter looks under furniture for a missing cat after several trees fell on their home during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-15-10

    A hubcap blows by as a man runs to his car during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-16-3

    Pam Heckstall surveys the damage as the remnants of Hurricane Michael move through Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. She is not able to leave her street due to downed trees. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-17-2

    Pine trees litter a yard in Port St. Joe, Fla., on Garrison Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane Michael formed off the coast of Cuba carrying major Category 4 landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Surge in the Big Bend area, along with catastrophic winds at 155mph. (Douglas R. Clifford/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • Tropical-Weather-18-4

    Hurricane Michael formed off the coast of Cuba carrying major Category 4 landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Surge in the Big Bend area, along with catastrophic winds at 155mph. The First Baptist Church of Port St Joe, Fla., was significantly damaged and water remains on the street near the church on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle (Douglas R. Clifford/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

  • Tropical-Weather-19-3

    James Prescott surveys the damage as the remnants of Hurricane Michael move through Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. He was visiting a friend and was not able to leave the street due to downed trees. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Gerald Herbert

  • Tropical-Weather-20-2

    Hurricane Michael formed off the coast of Cuba carrying major Category 4 landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Surge in the Big Bend area, along with catastrophic winds at 155mph. Storm surge floods 20th St in Port St. Joe, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, after Hurricane Michael makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle. (Douglas R. Clifford/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    Douglas R. Clifford

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its destructive charge inland across the Southeast. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years, and at least one death was reported during its passage.

Supercharged by abnormally warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases. After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael barreled into south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane — the most powerful ever recorded for that part of the neighboring state. It later weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, and there were reports it spawned possible tornadoes in central Georgia.

In north Florida, Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles. It set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 388,000 homes and businesses.

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The man wasn’t immediately identified.

Damage in Panama City was extensive, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled off, and homes split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Residents emerged in the early evening to assess damage when rains stopped, though skies were still overcast and windy.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her apartment, Spring Gate Apartments, a small complex of single-story wood frame apartment buildings. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof, and he said the roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the winds accelerated. Their ears even popped as the barometric pressure dropped.

“It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time. We had the inside windows kind of barricaded with mattresses,” Beu said.

Kaylee O’Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, nearly hitting two people. Her 1-year-old Siamese cat, Molly, was missing.

“We haven’t seen her since the tree hit the den. She’s my baby,” O’Brien said, her face wet with tears.

In Apalachicola, Sally Crown rode out the storm in her house. The worst damage — she thought — was in her yard. Multiple trees were down. But after the storm passed, she drove to check on the cafe she manages and saw breathtaking destruction.

“It’s absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic,” Crown said. “There’s flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered.”

Gov. Rick Scott announced soon after the powerful eye had swept inland that “aggressive” search and rescue efforts would get underway as conditions allowed. He urged people to stay off debris-littered roads.

“If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly,” he said.

Michael was a meteorological brute that sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. It was the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm, Camille and Andrew in 1992.

Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence’s epic flooding.

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. But without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.


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