Hurricane Michael Causes Transformer Explosion in Alabama

Hurricane Michael hits Florida barely skirting past Jewish community

Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm the United States has seen in almost 50 years, is moving through the Florida Panhandle, ripping apart homes and sending walls of water rushing inland. On Thursday morning, some 830,000 homes were reported to be without power as a result of the damage.

Bill Manning, a 63-year-old supermarket employee, fled his camper van in Panama City for safer quarters in a hotel only to see the electricity there go out.

"We just need people to be patient", Castor said. "We worked all night in endangered circumstances". The area is known for its small beach towns, wildlife reserves and the state capital, Tallahassee.

Now downgraded to a Category 3, earlier the extremely unsafe Category 4 hurricane produced winds of up to 250kmh when it made landfall around 1.30pm Wednesday (local time) in Mexico Beach, about 30 kilometres southeast of Panama City. It weakened steadily as it traveled inland over the Panhandle.

More than 403,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, utility companies said.

Michael is expected to drop 4 to 7 inches of rain from eastern Georgia to the southern mid-Atlantic and up to 9 inches of rain in isolated parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the National Hurricane Center said.

North and SC are both still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and caused billions of dollars in damage last month.

The storm mangled buildings, toppled trees and covered roads in water.

In an advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the potential for a catastrophic event along the Florida Panhandle becomes even more real as Category 4 Hurricane Michael has increased in intensity.

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.

Thousands of law enforcement officers and search and rescue teams rolled out in its wake to find survivors amid the wreckage of homes where people defied evacuation orders. The hurricane is also expected to bring a storm surge up to 14 feet high. Wind damage was also evident.

But while the winds eased, the threat of flooding rain, including in areas already soaked by a recent hurricane, Florence, along the U.S. East Coast persisted.

Below is a graphic from Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State, ranking the strongest landfalling hurricanes in U.S. History.

In a 10 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Michael was holding form as a Category 4 storm by landfall with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

Michael, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, was the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit the Panhandle.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida on Wednesday.

"We basically just walked away from everything and said goodbye to it", he said, tears welling up.

"That's one scary-looking storm", NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor said in an audio feed from the station shortly before the storm hit land.

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