Hurricane Michael has killed at least one person as it continues to move inland over the Southeast. The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. The intense Category 4 hurricane was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 mph when it crashed ashore near Mexico Beach, a lightly populated tourist town about midway along the Panhandle.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) described Michael as “potentially catastrophic.” Debris is strewn across miles of Florida’s coastline: Roofs and awnings peeled back from buildings, pieces of homes scattered amid snapped trees and downed power lines, chunks of beaches washed away.
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Forecasters mark landfall as the place and time when the center of the eye strikes land. Minutes earlier, Michael’s eyewall came ashore between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, and the hurricane center warned everyone inside the relative calm of the eye not to venture outside.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from the center. Those winds were tearing some buildings apart in Panama City Beach.
One beachfront structure under construction could be seen collapsing, and metal roofing material flew sideways across parking lots amid sheets of rain.
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