Hurricane Michael is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the US, and the proof is strewn across miles of Florida's coastline: Roofs and awnings peeled from buildings, pieces of homes scattered amid snapped trees and downed power lines, chunks of beaches washed away.
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. Its sustained winds were just 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) shy of an extremely rare Category 5.
The storm's intensity waned steadily as it pushed inland and curled northeasterly into Georgia after dark.
As of around 8pm, Michael was about 20 miles southwest of Albany, Georgia, with winds of 100 mph, becoming a category 1 storm.
As the destructive forces of Hurricane Michael were set to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station were able to capture breathtaking video of the storm.
Forecasters said it would unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding. A risky 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. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rain was forecast in Florida.
A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said.
While eyes in space watch the unsafe storm from above, cameras on the ground are tracking the hurricane's impending landfall for live internet viewing.
Other buildings were stripped of their walls and roofs or ripped apart by downed trees and power lines.
"This storm can kill you", Governor Rick Scott has warned.
Photos reveal devastation after supercharged Hurricane Michael slams Florida Panhandle
A water-level station in Apalachicola, close to where Michael came ashore, reported a surge of almost 8 feet (2.5 meters). The Carolinas are still reeling from severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence less than a month ago.
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Some tourists and residents ducked outdoors as a precaution but then went back to sleep when there was no tsunami warning. He added there was no damage in Rabaul, but officers were still waiting to hear from villages closer to the epicentre.
"Along our coast, communities are going to see unimaginable devastation".
"My God, it's scary". She said she could smell the pine from snapped tree branches.
Without power, the city was plunged into darkness at nightfall and its flooded streets were mostly silent and devoid of people or traffic.
More than 311,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Georgia and Alabama have also been left without power, according to local power companies.
A Red Cross official said it's possible that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate and are likely riding out the storm.
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.
Characterized by strong winds and heavy rainfall, the hurricane of 1930 caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic.
Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay almost everywhere.
"Water will come miles in shore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses", he said.
But Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross said on Wednesday as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast had disregarded evacuation notices. But the fast-moving, fast-strengthening storm didn't give people much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out. Smith, the sheriff of Franklin County, a coastal patch south of Tallahassee, told CNN that the county was almost isolated after most of the main roads were rendered impassable from flooding and downed trees.