Remnants of Hurricane Michael battering the Southeast

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Hurricane Michael made landfall yesterday afternoon as the strongest storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle, and one of the most powerful storms to strike the United States.

The remnants of Michael are forecast to bring heavy rain and strong winds throughout the Southeast today before heading offshore Friday.

The Category 4 storm made landfall at Mexico Beach, Fla., with peak gusts of 155 mph, the fourth highest on record for a hurricane hitting the continental United States. (A Category 5 hurricane has winds of 157 mph and higher.) Winds exceeding 100 mph were recorded in Marianna, Fla., 55 miles inland.

Apalachicola had more than 7 feet of storm surge, a new record. Some 800,000 are without power, with neighborhoods in ruins. Two people are reported to have died in the storm.

The damage is extensive, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.

As of 8 o’clock this morning, the National Hurricane Center had downgraded Michael to a tropical storm as the center moved over South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. The storm was moving northeast at 21 mph, and forward speed is expected to increase through tonight.

The storm is expected to hit eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia this afternoon before it moves into the Atlantic late tonight or early tomorrow.