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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.

Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said Wednesday that Michael would have a bit more of an impact on the area than it appeared on Tuesday, though a cold front heading across the US would still, in fact, fend off the worst.

Hurricane Michael, the fiercest storm to hit Florida in more than 80 years and the third-most powerful ever to strike the USA mainland, battered the state's Gulf coast on Wednesday with roof-shredding winds, raging surf and torrential rains. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm.

"It really started as a tropical storm, and then it went to Category 1, then it was Category 2 and before you know it, it was Category 4", O'Shaughnessy said.

Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightowers said they received a call at 6pm local time (11pm BST). Some 125,000 homes were left without power in Georgia and over 52,000 homes in Alabama as of Wednesday evening. According to the US Energy Information Administration.

Hurricane Michael is now moving northeast with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. It was downgraded to a Category 1 storm, with top sustained winds diminishing to 75 miles per hour (120 kph), about nine hours after it made landfall.

It was heading north-northeast at 14 miles per hour (22 kph) with maximum sustained winds down to 150 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.

"This storm can kill you", Governor Rick Scott has warned.

Hundreds of thousands of electricity customers were without power as of 6 p.m.

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At 11.00 am Eastern time (0200 AEDT), Michael was about 95 kms south-southwest of Panama City and moving north-northeast at 22km/h, the NHC said.

The St. Marks River overflows into the city of St. Marks, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

Michael benefited from deep pockets of warm water in the Gulf, which meant that even as the storm stirred the water it crossed, it wasn't churning up cool water that could sap its strength, said Bryan Norcross, a hurricane specialist with WPLG, a TV station in South Florida.

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

After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets. Some of those areas are still working to recover from Hurricane Florence.

Michael battered the shoreline with sideways rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves, swamping streets and docks, flattening trees, stripped away leaves, shredding awnings and peeling away shingles.

Hurricane Michael has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes. Lower central pressure indicates a stronger storm.

Michael was a monster storm by wind speed around the time it made landfall. It had sustained winds of 155 mph, meaning it wasn't from a Category 5 storm - a Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds of up to 156 mph, and Category 5 is 157 mph and above.


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