By The Associated Press
PANAMA CITY, Florida (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Michael (all times Eastern):
Hurricane Michael has begun weakening as it charges across southwestern Georgia with damaging winds and rains. It has dropped from a once formidable Category 4 to a bottom-tier Category 1 storm.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the eye of Michael was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Albany, Georgia, at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday. It had top sustained winds of 90 mph (145 kph) and was moving to the northeast at 17 mph (27 kph).
Forecasters say storm flooding is still occurring along the Florida Gulf Coast after Michael crashed ashore Wednesday afternoon as a fierce storm with 155 mph winds. The storm is expected to head to the northeast as it crosses south and central Georgia into the Carolinas in coming hours.
The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Georgia as Hurricane Michael pushed through the state, and local media report three of them may have touched down.
News media in Macon reported that by early evening Wednesday, tornadoes had touched down near Roberta, Perry and Fort Valley in Georgia’s midstate region.
Crawford County officials said a possible tornado damaged five homes near Roberta. The county’s emergency management director told news media it touched down on Highway 128 and knocked down power lines and trees. No injuries were reported.
Weather officials had warned that the massive storm, which came ashore Wednesday afternoon in Florida’s Panhandle region, could spawn tornadoes as it moves northeast.
Hurricane Michael has left extensive damage in Panama City, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled off and homes split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Residents emerged early Wednesday evening to assess damage when rains stopped, though skies were still overcast and windy.
A pine tree punched a hole in the roof of the apartment where 29-year-old Vance Beu was staying with his mother. The roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the wind accelerated, and their ears popped as pressure dropped.
Beu said, “It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time. We had the inside windows kind of barricaded in with mattresses. We did whatever we could to kind of hunker down.”
Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state.
Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower says they received a call around 6 p.m. Wednesday, saying a tree had crashed through the roof of the man’s Greensboro home and trapped him. Emergency crews were heading to the home, but downed power lines and blocked roads were making the trip difficult.
Officials hadn’t immediately confirmed the man’s name.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says search and rescue teams are heading into the state’s hardest-hit areas to help survivors of Hurricane Michael.
Scott held a news conference Wednesday evening and urged people to stay off roads …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World