Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm — just shy of a Category 5 and the strongest ever to hit that part of the state in recorded history.
Information on casualties wasn’t immediately available, Florida emergency officials said after the storm crossed land about 20 miles southeast of Panama City at around 1:30 p.m. ET with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.
“We expect conditions across the Panhandle to begin deteriorating rapidly,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. “Now the storm is here. It is not safe to travel across the Panhandle.”
The latest on the storm:
- More than 285,000 customers in Florida and more than 72,000 in Georgia and Alabama were without power.
- More than 375,000 Florida residents were under evacuation orders.
- The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.
At 5 p.m. ET, the eye was approaching southeastern Alabama and southwest Georgia with life-threatening storm surge and catastrophic winds of 125 mph, the National Weather Service said — downgrading it to a Category 3 hurricane as it churned over land.
The weather service said the core of Michael would move across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia through the evening before heading northeastward to the Southeast through Thursday and then off the Mid-Atlantic coast late Thursday and Friday.