Hurricane Michael by the numbers: Over 900,000 homes, businesses without power

Hurricane Michael by the numbers: Over 900,000 homes, businesses without power

Increasingly, climate change is part of the risky mix as well.

Millions of people are in the path of Hurricane Michael as the unprecedented storm hit the Gulf Coast today with life-threatening winds, heavy rainfall and deadly storm surge.

"This is really an fantastic event", said Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.

"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. Downgraded to a tropical storm over south Georgia, it was weakening by the hour. "It had the pedal to the metal all the way until it hit the coast", he said.

All of the worst hurricanes of the past two years - Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence and Michael - intensified even more rapidly than this.

Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.

At an election rally in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, Trump offered his "thoughts and prayers" to those in the path of the storm and said he would visit Florida soon.

In its discussion, the center said the environment ahead of Michael was conducive to intensification.

In a recent study in the Journal of Climate, researchers found more rapid intensifications in a simulation of a human-warmed world, and also that this would prove a key pathway toward more intense hurricanes in general.

Although Tallahassee avoided a direct hit from the Category 4 storm, Mayor Andrew Gillum said on Facebook that "our community has been pretty significantly impacted". Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

Harvey and Michael didn't strengthen quite so much, so fast, but they rapidly intensified in the crucial hours before making their final continental US landfalls.

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Many flights were canceled in the hurricane zone, and Amtrak changed some train schedules to protect passengers and employees. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate. Modern models predicting warming have been borne out in thousands of studies showing phenomena like rising ocean temperatures and shrinking glaciers.

Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, said there was "one hurricane-related fatality", adding that the incident was "debris-related". Sea level rise is beginning to bring higher storm surge, as well. This was a borderline Category 5 storm, and it's clear the only reason Michael didn't quite cross that threshold was because it was crossing beaches by that time instead.

Some other highways are still closed because of flooding and damage from Hurricane Florence last month.

As of 5 p.m. EDT, Michael was 295 miles south of Panama City, speeding northward at 12 mph.

Authorities said a falling tree killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia was killed when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home.

Now "Michael", weakened to a tropical storm, moving North and SC, which had not yet recovered from the hurricane "Florence," killed in September 44.

After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael entered south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane - the most powerful in recorded history for that part of the neighbouring state. "There's still stuff we don't know about hurricanes", Klotzbach said.

Scott said he talked to Trump early Thursday.

"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.

"It really started as a tropical storm, and then it went to Category 1, then it was Category 2 and before you know it, it was Category 4", O Shaughnessy said.

He drew an analogy to our wardrobes. We're working with our partners to provide evacuees a safe place to stay.

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