The winds were so strong they brought down a billboard in Florida's Panama City, tore down a Texaco gas pumping station canopy in Inlet Beach, and the storm surge completely knocked a house of its foundations in Mexico Beach.
At landfall, the storm's peak winds were fourth highest on record for a hurricane hitting the continental U.S. and the pressure ranked third lowest (the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm), below even Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Katrina in 2005.
The National Hurricane Center says the core of Michael will move across central and eastern Georgia Thursday morning, and then over southern and central SC later in the day. I don't know where they are.
This is the most intense hurricane to ever recorded to strike the Panhandle area of the Florida Gulf Coast, but the eventual impacts to insurance and reinsurance interests are not expected to be market-moving.
Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.
A water-level station in Apalachicola, close to where Michael came ashore, reported a surge of almost 8 feet (2.5 meters). "Structures built before 2001 are not created to handle that type of wind, typically", Long said.
"It's hard to convey in words the scale of the catastrophe in Panama City". He advised tourists and residents that had yet to heed evacuation calls early Wednesday to "hunker down", warning, "It's going to get worse pretty fast here".
"Along our coast, communities are going to see unimaginable devastation", Scott said, with storm surge posing the greatest danger.
Trump was briefed on the hurricane on Wednesday prior to it making landfall and said he would visit the area early next week.
"We've been very cautious with sending our first responders out right now", she said.
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Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.
Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode.
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses. It had sustained winds of 155 mph, meaning it wasn't from a Category 5 storm - a Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds of up to 156 mph, and Category 5 is 157 mph and above.
"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.
Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind Andrew in 1992, Camille, and the biggest one of all, an unnamed 1935 Labor Day storm that had winds of 296kph.
As the hurricane moves out of Florida, Scott warned that flash floods and tornadoes are still possibilities and said "the weather is still extremely risky". "I think its because of the way it kind of played out".
Hargan, a bartender at a riverfront restaurant, feared he would lose his home and his job to the storm.
Even before Michael made full landfall, it was whipping trees with its winds and had caused flooding in the town of Apalachicola, where more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water was reported, and about 20 miles away (32 km) in Port St. Joe.
"I'm freaking scared I'm going to lose everything I own, man."