A satellite image of Michael took the terrifying shape of a skull as it roared closer to the Florida Panhandle as a fierce Category 4 storm on Tuesday. Add Hurricane Michael as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Michael news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Across the bay in Panama City Beach, a resort city on the Gulf of Mexico known for its white-sand beach and amusement parks, winds of about 100 miles per hour furiously whipped the trees in the early afternoon and pulled apart homes.
Measured by barometric pressure, Michael ranks as the third-most-intense storm on record to make landfall in the US, according to the National Weather Service.
Michael began dashing homes into pieces and flooding neighborhoods shortly after crossing near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 storm.
After making landfall near Mexico Beach around 2 p.m. ET, the eye of Michael moved inland over the Florida Panhandle east of Panama City.More news: Trump raises economic concerns over halting Saudi arms sales
Hurricane Michael will continue to produce heavy rainfall and the risk of flash flooding in the areas of Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia.
The threshold for a Category 5 hurricane is 157 miles per hour maximum sustained winds.
"This came out of nowhere, developed on a weekend so it didn't really get much attention at all until basically yesterday", he said.
Briefing Mr Trump, Brock Long, the U.S. government's disaster chief, said: "This is the most intense hurricane that's struck this area since 1851".
"We're going to see a lot of wind damage", Long said, and some residents could expect not to have power restored for weeks.
Measured in this way the lower the pressure the stronger the hurricane - Michael was the most powerful since Hurricane Camille in 1969.More news: Barbara Bush ties the knot in Maine
It was downgraded to a tropical storm, with top sustained winds diminishing to 95km/h early today.
Hurricane Michael weakened to a Category 1 storm late Wednesday as it moved across south-central Georgia with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. He said he plans to visit storm-ravaged areas as soon as he can.
A woman and her children stand near a destroyed gas station after Hurricane Michael in Panama City.
She said: "I'm anxious about my daughter and grandbaby".
The local National Weather Service office in Tallahassee issued a chilling warning that Michael was "not comparable to anything we have seen before". "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".
Hurricane Michael blasted parts of Florida's Gulf coast with 155mph winds last night, threatening devastation in flood-prone communities and posing a critical pre-election test for the state's political leaders.More news: Michael strengthens into a hurricane, menaces Florida
Scott spoke Wednesday morning with Trump, who signed a pre-landfall emergency declaration Tuesday ensuring that federal resources would be available before and after the storm in the 35 counties where the governor declared a state of emergency.