Hurricane Michael – One of the Strongest Storms to Ever Hit Florida Wreaks Havoc
Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm (Photo: NOAA.gov)

Hurricane Michael - a category four storm with windspeed of over 230km/h – made landfall on Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. state of Florida's Panhandle region. At least one person is confirmed to have died after being crushed by a falling tree, Florida officials say.

Hurricane Michael is the most powerful hurricane ever to hit north-west Florida since the record-keeping for storms began in the state. "We are in new territory," National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle."

Reuters news agency reports that Michael is the third-most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the mainland U.S., after Hurricane Camille in Mississippi in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in Florida.

The storm has caused widespread flooding of beach towns, homes are submerged till the roof, structural damage to buildings and hundreds of trees left uprooted. One town in the Mexico Beach area reported that almost all houses had been submerged due to storm surge.

As of now an estimated 325,000 homes and businesses have lost power along the Florida Panhandle. The U.S. Air Force’s Tyndall Base , which sits across the bay from Panama City, posted on its Facebook page that they had sustained extensive damage. A wind gust of 210 kmph was measured at the base. No injuries were reported. Base personnel were ordered to evacuate on Monday. The Facebook post said evacuees should plan on being away for an extended time.

The damage extended far inland as well. In the town of Marianna, about 100 kms inland from Panama City, social media posts showed buildings with collapsed walls and torn off roofs. The police department lost its roof, too.

As the hurricane moves inland, this is not the end of the damage caused as it continues to be a Category 2 storm as it plows through the U.S.’s southeast as a hurricane, with winds topping 130 kmph as it crosses into Georgia.