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11 October 2018, 12:49 | Dale Webster
Hurricane Michael is still a major hurricane as it moves inland to Georgia
Myrtle Beach, which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Florence, is predicted to experience 46 miles per hour winds - the most powerful gusts in the Palmetto State.
As the hurricane, downgraded to a category-3 storm, moved into Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday evening, Florida Governor Rick Scotturged locals to stay inside and off the roads, as rescuers were on their way to the most heavy-hit areas.
Michael is moving north at 13 mph, now 90 miles southwest of Panama City.
The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least one person dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.
Its collision with the Florida coast so far has been stunning and violent.
Up the coast in Pensacola, the water temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) - 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) higher than normal for this time of year.
It is believed Michael, a Category 3 storm, is poised to push ashore a "life-threatening" surge of water that will inundate those coastal areas.
Once the storm passes they'll send crews out to take a look at the damage and from there begin restoring lines and poles.
There is "one hurricane-related fatality", Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, said.
Two to three inches of rain is expected for the area during the storm as well.
Bill Manning, a 63-year-old grocery clerk, fled his camper van in Panama City for safer quarters in a hotel only to see the electricity there go out.
Meanwhile, Michael continues its track across southern Georgia toward the Carolinas. "This is going to have structure-damaging winds along the coast and hurricane force winds inland".
It gathered still more strength just before making landfall northwest of the town of Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida Panhandle". A unsafe storm surge continued along the coastal Florida panhandle; a National Ocean Service station in Apalachicola was reporting 5 feet of water above the ground level.
"Safety is our first priority and most times it's a distraction when they are trying to restore service and it delays the process of getting the restoration services where it needs to be", said External Affairs Manager Theresa Robinson.
Michael is on the verge of doing that one better as the storm has dramatically increased in strength over the last 12 hours, now holding maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it approaches landfall near Panama City. According to the National Hurricane Center, "most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".
Scott, who expressed frustration earlier in the day about people ignoring evacuation orders, noted that the state has already spent close to $40 million on its response. Wind damage was also evident.
Michael upgraded to hurricane, heads toward Florida
The storm was centered about 50 miles off the western tip of Cuba , and about 140 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico. In Cuba on Sunday, Michael was expected to dump as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in western parts of the island.
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