SAINT MARKS, FL - OCTOBER 10: The Cooter Stew Cafe starts taking water in the town of Saint Marks as Hurricane Michael pushes the storm surge up the Wakulla and Saint Marks Rivers which come together here on October 10, 2018 in Saint Marks, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775240672 ORIG FILE ID: 1048880908
It was also the strongest October hurricane on record to make landfall anywhere in the United States.
“This morning, Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday morning. “So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. … This hurricane was an absolute monster.”
TOPSHOT - Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018. - Michael slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century as officials warned it could wreak "unimaginable devastation." Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, a town about 20 miles (32kms) southeast of Panama City, around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Hurricane ORIG FILE ID: AFP_19X5QL
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP/Getty Images
The forecast path
Although weakening, Michael continued to rampage through the Southeast on Thursday before racing offshore on Friday. Flash flooding and tornadoes were possible in the Carolinas and Virginia on Thursday. Projected path of Michael:
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PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 11: Debris is strewn next to a mobile home destroyed by Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051883992
Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Potential flash flood risk
Top wind speeds
Michael made landfall as a 155-mph, Category 4 storm, making it the third-strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S., when measured by barometric pressure. By wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest hurricane to make landfall on U.S. shores. Michael's biggest wind gusts:
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 11: Amanda Logsdon begins the process of trying to clean up her home after the roof was blown off by the passing winds of hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051882830
Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Roughly 800,000 customers were without power in the Southeast on Thursday due to Michael's ferocious winds. The vast majority of outages were in Georgia, Florida and Virginia. Counties reporting outages due to Michael, Wednesday — Friday:
The overhang of a gas station is toppled over in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Inlet Beach, Florida. - Residents of the Florida Panhandle woke to scenes of devastation Thursday after Michael tore a path through the coastal region as a powerful hurricane that killed at least two people. (Photo by Emily KASK / AFP)EMILY KASK/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Hurricane ORIG FILE ID: AFP_19Y1MK
EMILY KASK, AFP/Getty Images
The biggest storms
Michael will be remembered as one of the worst storms to hit the U.S., and will surely have its name "retired" by the World Meteorological Organization next year. The other disastrous storm this year, Hurricane Florence, will likely also have its name retired. The most powerful hurricanes to hit the continental U.S. since 1950:
Hurricane Michael made landfall with winds of 155 mph, making it a strong Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. It missed being a Category 5 by only 2 mph. What scale 1 to 5 looks like:
MEXICO BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 11: Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael litters the ground on October 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Florida. The hurricane hit the panhandle area with category 4 winds causing major damage. (Photo by Chris O'Meara-Pool/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051907864
Pool, Getty Images
How a hurricane forms
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 11: People walk past an apartment destroyed by Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051884006