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Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall as a Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Michael on October 10 Hurricane Michael on October 10 |  Photo: WDIO.com Interactive Radar

Updated: October 10, 2018 04:23 PM

PANAMA CITY, Florida (AP) - The National Hurricane Center says Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane at approximately 2 p.m.,  pushing a deadly storm surge and whipping the coast with 155 mph (250 kph) winds.
    
Forecasters mark landfall as the place and time when the center of the eye strikes land. Minutes earlier, Michael's eyewall came ashore between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, and the hurricane center warned everyone inside the relative calm of the eye not to venture outside.
    
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center.
    
Those winds were tearing some buildings apart in Panama City Beach. One beachfront structure under construction could be seen collapsing, and metal roofing material flew sideways across parking lots amid sheets of rain.

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Thousands of people along Florida's northern Gulf Coast have heeded warnings to evacuate, and many are cramming into high schools put to use as shelters.
    
Diane Farris and her son Waine Hall walked to the shelter nearest their home in Panama City,  Rutherford High School, and found about 1,100 people crammed into a space meant for about half as many.
    
She says the cafeteria and gym are full so they're putting people in the hallways and almost every room.
    
And she says more people are coming every minute.
    
Farris says she's terrified about predictions of "the big one" and desperate to know where her relatives are.
    
Another shelter resident, Michigan native Pamela Cowley, says she's nervous because people are saying they could go weeks without electricity.
    
Forecasters say Hurricane Michael will weaken once its core hits land and stops drawing strength from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
    
But it won't dissipate quickly. In fact, Michael is expected to whip parts of Alabama and Georgia with hurricane-force winds as it travels north.
    
The National Hurricane Center expects Michael to hold tropical storm strength through Thursday as it crosses the Carolinas.
    
Forecasters say Michael should re-emerge over the Atlantic Ocean on Friday and regain some strength as it moves away from the U.S. coast.
    
Tropical storm warnings and a storm-surge watch were extended Wednesday morning to North Carolina's barrier islands.

For more of the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes
 

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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