Unscathed by Hurricane Michael, Lake City friends test their luck

"This is the worst storm that the Florida Panhandle has seen in more than 100 years", said Rick Scott, the state governor.

Forecasters warned that Michael's strength could be "catastrophic" for communities in its path - anywhere from Pensacola on the western flank of the Florida Panhandle to Tampa.

There is "one hurricane-related fatality", said Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, adding that the incident was "debris-related".

A view from the International Space Station of Hurricane Michael as it churns strikes the Panhandle of Northwest Florida on October 10, 2018, in Earth Orbit.

Michael is the third-most powerful hurricane to make landfall in the continental US.

Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 miles per hour, destroying buildings and leaving some structures fully submerged in water.

The threshold for a Category 5 hurricane is 157 miles per hour maximum sustained winds.

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Major cities such as Houston were flooded, causing as much as $300 billion in damage, according to estimates.

Michael was downgraded by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) from a category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm early on Thursday.

It had a low barometric pressure recorded at 919 millibars in its eye, which is how a hurricane's force is measured.

Michael's strong, well-developed core makes for a very powerful, windy storm on land.

"I wanted to let you guys know exactly what is going on", she said, speaking about a curfew that had been instituted in nearby Bay County because of concerns about looting from the outages.

"I'm anxious about my daughter and grandbaby".

Helen Neal, 88, and her husband, J.W. Neal, 87, preferred to take their chances in a hotel rather than in their two-story beachfront house about a mile away in Panama City.

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General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.

The evacuation order remains in effect until further notice.

According to Climate Central, a scientific research organization, the coming decades are expected to bring hurricanes that intensify more rapidly, should there be no change in the rate of greenhouse gas emissions.

Marino, who lives with his girlfriend and her grandmother, said water started dripping through the chimney, and they feared the wind would send the tree crashing through the roof. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

On the forecast track, Michael was expected to pass northeast through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia on Wednesday Thursday as a tropical storm.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires.

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