On Wednesday, she called for showers Thursday morning for most of the area, with rain increasing over the rest of the day and totaling 1 to 2 inches, with more south and east of D.C.
As the Category 4 storm's center crossed nearby, Mulligan said, the concrete building shook and vibrated against sustained winds around 155 miles per hour.
Hurricane center Director Ken Graham said on Facebook that Michael would be the worst storm in recorded history to hit the Panhandle. They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years.
In the hours and days ahead, the storm is expected to take a largely easterly course, pushing up through Georgia and the Carolinas before eventually making its way back out to sea sometime after Thursday evening.
"I think our biggest impact here on the Island could be some heavier rain from this more garden-variety storm system, than a direct impact from Michael itself, although a plume of tropical moisture well ahead of Michael does look to push far enough north to have some effect on P.E.I". Part of the awning fell and shattered the glass front door of the hotel, and the rest of the awning wound up on vehicles parked below it.
Many homes were ripped apart or washed away altogether in Mexico Beach, a town of 1,000 where the hurricane made landfall and the storm surge pushed lead-grey water up to the rooftops. "Confidence is high that some significant impacts will occur in our area", said an early-morning update for the western Carolinas including Charlotte. "Structures built before 2001 are not created to handle that type of wind, typically", Long said.
The storm, which caused a major disruption for oil and gas production in the gulf, had the potential to drive sea water levels as high as 14 feet (4.3 meters) above normal in some areas, the National Hurricane Center said.
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Hours earlier, meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified. The storm was the strongest to ever hit the Panhandle and the fourth Category 4 storm to hit the U.S.in the past 15 months.
Meteorologists use another measure to evaluate hurricane intensity: central pressure.
The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming.
Warmer water acts as fuel for a hurricane, helping it develop into a more destructive, windier storm. But without extensive study, they can not directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.
Thousands of evacuees sought shelter in Tallahassee, which is about 25 miles from the coast but is covered by live oak and pine trees that can fall and cause power outages even in smaller storms. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds.
She said the incident was "debris-related".
Only a skeleton staff remained at Tyndall Air Force Base, situated on a peninsula just south of Panama City. It almost hit Category 5 strength.
"I'm just praying for them and, as soon as this passes, we will be out there doing everything we can to rescue everybody..."