The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left widespread destruction and wasn't finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia toward the Carolinas, a region still reeling from epic flooding in Hurricane Florence.
The storm came ashore as a category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, before it was downgraded to a category 3. That's just 2 miles per hour away from officially being a Category 5 hurricane.
The storm's intensity waned steadily as it pushed inland and curled northeasterly into Georgia after dark.
Michael's conditions are similar to those of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas previous year as a Category 4 storm that packed 130 miles per hour winds and left 68 people dead.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama issued a state-wide state of emergency on Monday "in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage, and debris produced by high winds and heavy rain associated with Hurricane Michael".
Warmer water acts as fuel for a hurricane, helping it develop into a more destructive, windier storm.
"Upwards of 8- to 12-foot storm surge is expected, so there could be some significant low-lying flooding in coastal areas", said National Weather Liaison Ken Widelski.
At least one man has been killed after a tree crashed through the roof of his Greenboro home and trapped him.
It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches (101 centimeters) of rain.
"If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly", he said.
Scott had earlier said the hurricane would bring "unimaginable devastation" and said he was "scared to death" for those who ignored evacuation orders.
"Oh my God, what are we seeing?" said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open.
More than 17,000 people tuned into the broadcast, including Sen.
The WaterSound Beach Club near Panama City Beach is also sharing a live-cam view of crashing waves and rain.
Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes and the governor told residents who had not done so to "hunker down and be careful".
Michael is the lowest pressure hurricane to strike the US mainland since 1969.
Characterized by strong winds and heavy rainfall, the hurricane of 1930 caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic.
Damage in Panama City was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.
"That's one scary-looking storm", NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor said in an audio feed from the station shortly before the storm hit land.
Tyndall Air Force Base, located in Panama City on the coast of the Florida Panhandle, was fully evacuated Tuesday night, just before the Michael made landfall, said Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command. Emergency managers say they don't know how many left the area, but there were about 6000 people in 80 shelters in five states, including almost 1200 who are still in shelters following Hurricane Florence.
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.
A man trapped inside his home after a tree fell on the roof was believed to be the first death related to the hurricane after it hammered the coast of Florida.