Hurricane Michael has arrived, and it's stronger than anyone expected

NOAA via AP

On Thursday morning, some 830,000 homes were reported to be without power as a result of the damage.

A store lost its awning after winds ripped it from its foundation in Panama City, Florida. That's about 20 miles southeast of Panama City, where dozens of utility poles were snapped and parking lots glistened with broken glass.

"Sadly, 99 percent of people are good and out there and trying to help each other", Bondi said on Thursday during an interview with FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo. "We worked all night in endangered circumstances". Authorities said 285 people in Mexico Beach had refused to leave ahead of the hurricane despite a mandatory evacuation order.

Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning after smashing into the Sunshine State with 155 mile-an-hour winds, almost a Category 5 storm, leaving a path of massive destruction as it shredded a path across the Panhandle. It's expected to gradually weaken over land.

Meanwhile, tropical storm warnings were in effect for parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Michael is now a tropical storm and, as of Thursday morning, was pushing its way across SC - while also lashing North Carolina and Virginia with strong winds and heavy rains amid a tornado threat. The Carolinas, still recovering following Hurricane Florence, could see heavy rain, potentially causing flooding.

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The two people killed in the storm were a man who died when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl who died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials and local media said.

On the forecast track, the core of Michael will move inland across the Florida Panhandle this afternoon, and across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia tonight.

"I want to send our thoughts and prayers of our entire nation to everyone in the path of Hurricane Michael, especially in the Florida Panhandle where it's hitting and hitting hard", Trump told the crowd.

"The wind that came through here was surreal".

As the storm moved northward, it tore through Panama City. "I just saw a post on Facebook and the street leading to my house, they were going down it with a boat".

The City of Tallahassee restored power to some customers but still had more than 111,000 without service by early Thursday. Wind speeds in the 7 a.m. report also remained at 140 miles per hour.

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Power lines were knocked down and heavy rains and fierce winds blanketed the area.

Michael was also the most powerful storm to make landfall in the continental U.S.

At landfall, the storm's peak winds were fourth highest on record for a hurricane hitting the continental USA and the pressure ranked third lowest (the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm), below even Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Katrina in 2005.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the USA mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. "If it hits as a Category 4 we could see catastrophic damage", he said.

"That's one scary-looking storm", NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor said in an audio feed from the station shortly before the storm hit land.

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