So it will take some time for the full scale of the property damage from hurricane Michael to be understood.
It's powerful 155mph winds ripped through the coast, flattening homes, flooding roads and leaving more than 400,000 without power.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew, which caused the deaths of almost 600 people in Haiti, quickly grew to a Category 5 storm with sustained winds up 165 miles an hour because of rapid intensification.
Only the 1935 "Labor Day" hurricane, which hit the Florida Keys, and 1969's Hurricane Camille, which struck MS, were more intense at landfall in all of US history.
'Continuous lightning is present on the forward edge of the eyewall, and lightning detection on the rear edge rotate with specific sections of the eye'.
CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor reports from Panama City Beach, Florida. Beachfront structures could be seen collapsing and metal roofing materials were blown away amid the heavy rain. "We're going to get some people hurt".
States of emergencies have been issued for Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
About 3,500 Florida National Guard troops were deployed, along with more than 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel, Governor Scott said.
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"When they started a couple of days ago and said it was going to be a Category 1, it was, like, 'Cat 1, no big deal, ' " Laurie Hamm said at the Panama City hotel where she had taken refuge.
Mexico Beach is a small tourist town toward the center of Florida's panhandle.
There is "one hurricane-related fatality", said Olivia Smith, public information officer for the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, adding that the incident was "debris-related". As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.
A woman makes her way to an evacuation shelter in Tallahassee, Florida. Later they were even higher, reaching 155 - just 2 miles per hour short of Category 5 strength - by landfall. Then the remains of the storm will rapidly travel across the ocean toward Ireland. The storm's maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) and it was moving to the northeast at 21 miles per hour (33 kph). Downed power lines and other debris slowed emergency crews as they tried to respond to the call. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category-4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida Panhandle".
"Unfortunately, this is a Gulf Coast hurricane of the worst kind because all of the elements associated with hurricanes come into play", Brock Long, the chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Wednesday after he briefed President Trump in the Oval Office.
Many flights were canceled in the hurricane zone, and Amtrak changed some train schedules to protect passengers and employees.
The most significant risks for the region are flash flooding in the Interstate 77 corridor, including metro Charlotte, and potentially damaging wind.
Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires.
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