Hurricane Michael Pounds Florida’s Gulf Coast

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Hurricane Michael, the most powerful hurricane ever to hit north-west Florida has flooded beach towns, submerging homes and snapping trees like twigs.

Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a category three storm with 125mph (200km/h) winds in the state’s Panhandle region. One person was killed by a falling tree, Florida officials say. The storm left nearly 500,000 people without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, emergency services say. Michael was so powerful that it remained a hurricane as it moved further inland. Its rapid intensification caught many by surprise, although the storm later weakened. It was a category two hurricane by Tuesday, and a borderline category five on Wednesday morning, packing 155mph winds. Florida Governor Rick Scott warned of “unimaginable devastation”, saying it would be the worst storm in 100 years. Michael reportedly killed at least 13 people in Central America: six in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador. More than 370,000 people in Florida were ordered to evacuate, but officials believe many ignored the warning. Michael has already knocked out power to a quarter of a million homes and businesses, as power lines were smashed by falling trees. Reuters news agency reports that Michael is the third-most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the mainland US, after Hurricane Camille in Mississippi in 1969 and the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in Florida. States of emergency have been declared in all or parts of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. The hurricane made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, at around 14:00 (18:00 GMT) on Wednesday, according to the NHC. Forecasters warned parts of Florida could experience storm surges of up to 14ft (4m) and flash floods from up to 12in (30cm) of rain. Schools and state offices in the area are to remain shut this week.   BBC
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