Hurricane Michael downgraded to Category 3, still life-threatening
Hurricane Michael was downgraded to still life-threatening Category 3, hours after making landfall in U.S. state Florida earlier on Wednesday with maximum-sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, just shy of a Category 5 storm and causing massive damage.
Storm Surge retreats from inland areas, foreground, where boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday after Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach. [Photo: IC]
The hurricane eye, currently with maximum-sustained winds of 125 mph, churned toward southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said.
Storm surge to dangerous level, neighborhoods submerged and some buildings crumbled under the gusts, images and videos online showed.
As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 200,000 customers lost power in Florida, local media reported.
A woman checks on her vehicle as Hurricane Michael passes through, after the hotel canopy had just collapsed, in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. [Photo: AP]
The hurricane is the most powerful storm on record to hit Florida's Panhandle, a region rimmed with tourist beaches and fishing villages along the Gulf of Mexico.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation," the National Weather Service has said, noting Michael grew from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in about 40 hours.
More than 6 million people in Florida were forced to evacuate last year ahead of the landfall of Hurricane Irma, which was ranked one of the costliest storms in U.S. history with repair bills reportedly up to more than 60 billion dollars.