Even veteran storm chasers are saying they’re truly shocked by the extreme devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael, the worst storm to hit the U.S.in over 25 years and the most powerful ever in the Florida Panhandle. As it barreled northward Thursday morning toward the Carolinas, residents in the Panhandle region emerged to assess the damage from the Category 4 hurricane, finding cars submerged, tall trees snapped in half, whole neighborhoods in pieces on the ground, power lines ripped down, and a general trail of destruction.
The fast-moving storm hit like a “bomb” in Panama City, according to one storm chaser, and it’s not over.
Though Michael has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it’s still packing high winds of about 55mph and heavy rain, posing major flooding danger to wide swaths of the Southeast, including areas still waterlogged from Hurricane Florence a few weeks ago.
A warehouse of boats is seen damaged at Treasure Island Marina after category 4 Hurricane Michael made land fall along the Florida panhandle, on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Panama City Beach, FL. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Haley Nelson inspects damages to her family properties in the Panama City, Fla., spring field area after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida’s Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its march inland. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)
Pine trees litter a yard in Port St. Joe, Fla., on Garrison Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. (Douglas R. Clifford/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O’Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
People walk past a home destroyed by Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Mike Lindsey stands in his antique shop after the winds from Hurricane Michael broke the windows in his shop on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)