A structure in Panama City Beach was no match for Michael's winds, as the home under construction collapsed an hour prior to the Category 4 storm's eyewall coming ashore.
The National Weather Service says tornadoes are possible across the Florida Panhandle, southeast Georgia and southern SC through Thursday morning as the hurricane now moves inland. "I didn't expect all this", said Bill Manning, 63, a grocery clerk who left his camper van in Panama City to move into a hotel where the power eventually went out.
Multiple airports were closed on Wednesday, including Tallahassee International Airport, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, Pensacola International Airport and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.
In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express.
Downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday over south Georgia, it continued to weaken overnight but was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.
Camille struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane, bringing with it devastating storm tides and strong winds that demolished buildings and destroyed orchards.
"That is one scary-looking storm", Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a NASA astronaut, could be heard saying on a live feed from the station just before the storm made landfall. "We didn't think it was going to be this bad".
"We haven't seen her since the tree hit the den".
Rapid intensification poses new dangers to communities in the path of tropical storms and hurricanes because it makes early forecasts less reliable and because it leaves less time to evacuate or prepare for severe damage.
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While their chances in the House are still seen as good, Republicans are feeling better about the upper chamber. The party that holds the White House typically loses seats in midterm congressional elections.
Those storms left a trail of destruction: the 1935 hurricane was responsible for 408 deaths in the Keys, while Camille was linked to 256 deaths in two states, according to the hurricane center.
The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders.
Surges of as high as 14 feet are expected around where Michael made landfall near Apalachicola, Florida. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.
"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.
Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas, as well as southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia.
Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.
More than 17,000 people tuned into the broadcast, including Sen.
Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.
Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible. More than 40,000 people lost power across the state. Flash flooding is also expected to be a major concern as the storm continues to push inland.
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