Hurricane Michael, a “monstrous” storm churning with 155 mph winds, roared ashore on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon as the most powerful storm on record to strike the region.
The storm, described by forecasters as “unprecedented,” exploded from a tropical depression over the weekend to the cusp of Category 5 — 1 mph away — Wednesday, fueled by warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were warned to evacuate, and the hurricane’s leading edge sent storm surge into neighborhoods as it approached.
The National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office said that an extreme wind warning was issued for Panama City, Lynn Haven, and Callaway FL until 3:15 PM CDT for winds more than 130 mph.
“Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to an interior room or shelter,” the NWS said.
As Michael approached, Heavy waves pounded the shoreline in Panama City Beach, which caused a building under construction to collapse.
In nearby Apalachicola, storm surge sent water pouring into city neighborhoods and covering roadways.