One dead as Michael, now a Category 1 hurricane, churns across land

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One person was confirmed to have been killed as Hurricane Michael moved across Florida and Georgia on Wednesday night, hours after it made landfall as the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history.

“The nation has watched as this storm has devastated the Panhandle,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said on Wednesday evening, but he promised: “Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida.”

A man was killed when a tree fell on a residence in Greensboro, Florida, Sgt. Anglie Hightower, a spokeswoman for the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, told NBC News.

Michael remained dangerous several hours after it crossed land as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, Florida, about 20 miles southeast of Panama City, at around 1:30 p.m. ET with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.

The latest on the storm:

  • Almost 390,000 customers in Florida and more than 124,000 in Georgia and Alabama were without power.
  • More than 375,000 Florida residents were under evacuation orders.
  • The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

Michael Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, called the hurricane a “history-making, very devastating storm and one that we’re never going to forget.”

“We’ve got a little ways to go with this system,” Graham said on MSNBC. “We’re telling people this isn’t over with.”

At 9 p.m. ET, the storm was about 80 miles south-southwest of Macon, Georgia, as a Category 1 hurricane with life-threatening storm surge and damaging winds of 85 mph, the National Weather Service said.

The weather service said the core of Michael would move across southwestern and central Georgia through the evening before heading northeastward across the Southeast through late Thursday and then off the Mid-Atlantic coast by early Friday. It will weaken steadily, becoming a tropical storm by Thursday morning, the agency said.

Michael was one of the worst storms the Panhandle had ever faced even before it made landfall. As the eye moved over the area, the National Weather Service warned people not to go outside in the “relative calm” because winds would pick up swiftly.

Hurricane-force winds extended 45 miles from the eye Wednesday night, the National Hurricane Center said, and less severe tropical storm-force winds extended 160 miles.

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