How Hurricane Michael became a monster storm

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Are you affected by Hurricane Michael?

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. "I'm asking all Floridians to stay vigilant throughout tonight and tomorrow as we brace for Hurricane Michael to make landfall".

Michael has killed at least a dozen people in Central America and a man was killed in Florida by a falling tree last night, according to authorities.

Hurricane Michael just made landfall along the Florida panhandle and it's packing much more of a punch than most assumed it would when warnings about its arrival began to spread about a week ago.

'Continuous lightning is present on the forward edge of the eyewall, and lightning detection on the rear edge rotate with specific sections of the eye'. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

A tree lays on a home and vehicle after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain.

Neighborhood streets flooded as waves battered the shoreline.

On the forecast track, Michael was expected to pass northeast through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia on Wednesday Thursday as a tropical storm.

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.

After a few areas of light showers this evening, more rain and damaging winds are on the way to Middle Georgia as Michael makes landfall and quickly moves inland.

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Florida comes under a hurricane watch as Michael rapidly strengthens
The bottom line is that tropical storm force winds are likely, meaning winds ranging from 40 miles per hour to as high as 70+. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

The combination of winds and storm surge will absolutely devastate portions of the Florida coastline.

"I've had to take antacids I'm so sick to my stomach today because of this impending catastrophe", National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake tweeted as the storm - drawing energy from the unusually warm, 84-degree Gulf waters - became more menacing.

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.

An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate.

Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said Michael is "unfortunately, a historical and incredibly risky and life-threatening situation".

Hours earlier, it made landfall in Florida as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in almost 50 years and the third-strongest ever. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.

According to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael's eyewall was strengthening as it maintained maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

Across the Panhandle, roaring winds splintered trees and rooftops.

Meteorologists use another measure to evaluate hurricane intensity: central pressure.

Meteorologists first got a sense something big could be happening by watching how Michael's eye changed shape.

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