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The monster hurricane was the most powerful ever recorded to hit the Panhandle and was on par with Hurricanes Irma, which swept across Florida in September 2017, and Andrew, which devastated Homestead in 1992.

The hurricane center's Graham said Michael represented a "textbook case" of a hurricane system growing stronger as it drew near shore, in contrast to Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after weakening in a slow, halting approach. Add Hurricane Michael as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Michael news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Position: The hurricane was about 120 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida, as of 6 a.m. ET this morning, per CNN.

Emily Hindle lies on the floor at an evacuation shelter set up at Rutherford High School, in advance of Hurricane Michael, which is expected to make landfall today, in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 miles per hour Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its destructive charge inland across the Southeast.

Reynolds said she and her friend even bought scratch-off tickets because they felt luck was in their favor after the storm.

They're also warning people to avoid touching down trees or power lines as a safety measure.

The Category 4 storm created storm surges up to 14 feet in areas, inflicted damages across Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City and spawned at least two "devastating" tornadoes in Gadsden County.

Michael is the lowest pressure hurricane to strike the USA mainland since 1969.

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A white woman on the roadside held up a handmade sign as the first lady's motorcade passed that said "Melania Me Too". She then took to the Nairobi National Park where she spotted rhino, giraffe, hippo, buffalo, zebra and other wildlife.

Michael's strong, well-developed core makes for a very powerful, windy storm on land.

The storm is expected to move across southwestern and central Georgia Wednesday night, weakening as it continues to move northeast Thursday and then off the coast into the Atlantic Ocean early Friday, according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory.

"It is extremely emotional", she said, fighting tears.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Tuesday an estimated 500,000 Florida residents had been ordered or urged to seek higher ground before the storm in 20 counties spanning a 320km stretch of shoreline.

Governor Rick Scott announced that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode.

"A potentially catastrophic event is developing", the National Weather Service forecast office serving the Tallahassee area wrote. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm.

States of emergency have been declared in all or parts of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.

At landfall, Michael's wind strength was just 2 miles per hour under the threshold for a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest grade of hurricane.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires.