Category 4 Hurricane Michael being felt on Florida coast

Category 4 Hurricane Michael being felt on Florida coast

Hurricane Michael crashed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday with 155 miles per hour (249 kph) winds and the potential for a devastating storm surge from what was expected to be the worst storm ever recorded in the region.

Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 storm Wednesday ahead of its landfall and could cause "potentially catastrophic" damage to the state of Florida's panhandle, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Florida Gov. Rick Scott described it as a "monstrous storm" and urged people to get out of the way.

600: The number of Florida state troopers assigned to response and recovery efforts throughout the storm.

Officials warn that the low-lying Florida Panhandle is extremely vulnerable to storm surge, with a geography that could concentrate vast amounts of ocean water and flood homes and businesses.

It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches of rain.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference. It strengthened from a tropical storm on Sunday to a Category 1 hurricane with 75-mph winds on Monday.

It was one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland and the most powerful one on record to menace the Panhandle, a roughly 320-kilometre stretch of fishing towns, military bases and spring-break beaches.

"What you're going to see is a storm moving very rapidly through Georgia, and it will maintain hurricane strength through southwest Georgia and central Georgia as it passes through later today and early tomorrow", a representative for FEMA's told Good Morning America. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental almost 50 years.

Before landfall, Michael's pressure fell so low it looked like the winds were sure to pick up fast, said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for Michael was then forecast to make landfall on Wednesday as a major hurricane, meaning at least Category 3 force, the National Hurricane Center said.

And none of the factors that hold a storm back were present, especially something called "wind shear".

It appeared to be so powerful that it was expected to remain a hurricane as it moves into Alabama and Georgia early Thursday.

Most hurricanes are good at producing tornadoes because they cause a lot of vertical shear - or differences in wind direction and speed at different heights.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents choosing to ride it out that first-responders won't be able to reach them while Michael smashes into the coast. Heavy rainfall will drench Florida's Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia and SC; up to 12 inches is possible in isolated locations.

As the storm barrels toward the coast, it threatens 3.8 million people who are all under hurricane warnings in Florida's panhandle and Big Bend regions, according to CNN. That's how strong a storm can get if all other factors are aligned, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate and hurricane expert Jim Kossin said. Now, the state is expecting to see 2 to 6 inches of rain during Hurricane Michael, he added.