Close House and Senate Races That Hurricane Michael Could Hit

Still far off, Michael a growing menace to Florida Panhandle

The powerful storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and ripped through the Florida Panhandle with 155 miles per hour winds and 12-foot waves that left a trail of destruction in its wake.

"The time to evacuate the coastal areas has come and gone".

The Category 4 storm, which President Donald Trump dubbed a "massive tornado" Wednesday (note: the storm is not a tornado), will test the commitment of campaign volunteers in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, where incumbents and newcomers are locked in tight races with the 2018 midterm elections less than four weeks away.

"Michael is upon us, it is time to seek refuge".

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

In Florida "life-threatening" storm surge of up to 14 feet was forecast, though the National Hurricane Center said water levels are beginning to recede in some locations.

The devastation reminded her of what she witnessed in 1992 when Andrew hit. That's about 365 miles (590 km) south of Apalachicola, Florida.

The storm appeared to be so powerful - with a central pressure dropping to 933 millibars - that it is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves over Georgia early Thursday. Winds should be picking up in the next couple of hours. "The emergency declaration is effective for seven days and makes all state resources available to local governments and entities within the impacted area of the hurricane", his office said.

The US Air Force shuttered a command-and-control center as Hurricane Michael tore into the Florida coast, a top general said Wednesday, as the military mobilized thousands of troops to help tackle the monster storm's impact. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay, the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Pearl River and from Fernandina Beach, Florida to South Santee River, South Carolina.

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A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from the Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island, Fla., including Tampa Bay. The Suncoast is at the very southern edge of the impacts expected from Hurricane Michael as it lifts north.

The eye of Hurricane Michael, as seen from the International Space Station.

Byard said an estimated 500,000 people were under evacuation orders and advisory's in Florida, where residents and tourists were fleeing low-lying areas in at least 20 counties stretching along 200 miles (322 km) of shore in the Panhandle and adjacent Big Bend region.

"We don't know if it's going to wipe out our house or not", Jason McDonald, of Panama City, said as he and his wife drove north to safety into Alabama with their two children, ages 5 and 7.

She was unsure how well her old, wood-framed apartment block would hold up. "I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle", meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com told The Associated Press. "My greatest concern is not having electricity, and living on a fixed income, losing my food".

"Most of that is within 100 feet of the coast", Alan Pierce, a retired Franklin County administrator, said.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel.

Mexico Beach resident Patricia Mulligan said the concrete building she lives in shook and vibrated as the storm's center crossed nearby.

Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen. "We haven't seen as robust of an evacuation response from the civilian population that we have seen in other storms". Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call. It was the most powerful hurricane on record to hit the Panhandle.

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