Michael downgraded to tropical storm, but still packing a punch

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Michael, the strongest hurricane on record to hit the area, made landfall Wednesday and continued to charge north, wreaking havoc and prompting emergencies as it moves through the region.

Bo Patterson, the mayor of Port St. Joe, just south of Mexico Beach, rode out the storm in his house seven blocks from the beach. The worst of the weather will be from 3 a.m.to 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create an energy imbalance, with more than 90% of remaining heat trapped by the gases going into the oceans, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association.

On the forecast track, the eye of Michael is expected to move ashore over the Florida Panhandle later today near Panama City, move northeastward across the southeastern US tonight and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the USA on Friday.

Pictures and video from Mexico Beach - a community of about 1,000 people where Michael made landfall around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT) - showed scenes of devastation, with houses floating in flooded streets, some ripped from their foundations and missing roofs.

Around 375,000 people were under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders across 18 counties in Florida in preparation of the storm, and a state of emergency had been declared in 35 counties prior to the storm making landfall.

Officials reported at least one storm-related fatality, a man in Greensboro, Florida, was killed when a tree fell on top of his home, a spokesperson for the Gadsden County sheriff said.

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 200-mile (320-km) stretch of shoreline.

Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Mitchell Pope tries to salvage what he can from his mobile home on October 10 in Saint Marks. The NHC forecasts up to 8 inches for the panhandle, southeast Alabama, and parts of southwest and central Georgia.

An estimated 6,000 evacuees took cover in emergency shelters, a lot of them in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week's end, Kieserman said. This risk will spread northward into parts of Georgia and southern SC this afternoon and tonight. Some of those areas are still working to recover from Hurricane Florence.

"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center (NHC) Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.

- High tides: storm surge of 6 feet (2 meters) up to 14 feet (4 meters) forecast for Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend.

With maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a strong Category 4 storm near Panama City, Florida. So when the air pressure drops to such a point like 919 millibars, the air moves incredibly fast.

Central pressure is the measure of how much the atmosphere in the middle of a storm weighs. It quickly buckled under the pressure of the storm. A unsafe storm surge continued along the coastal Florida panhandle; a National Ocean Service station in Apalachicola was reporting 5 feet of water above the ground level.

Winds could gust 25-50 miles per hour in these areas late Thursday night and early on Friday.

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