Michael weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday but only after wreaking a day of havoc along Florida’s Gulf Coast as it flooded homes and streets and toppled trees and power lines in the beachfront areas where it roared ashore as a raging Category 4 hurricane.
Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour), was the most powerful storm to hit the state’s northern Panhandle area since record-keeping began more than a century ago. One death was blamed on the hurricane.
Michael had weakened to a Category 1, with maximum winds of 90 mph as of 8:00 pm Eastern time (0000 GMT), but that still left it an extremely dangerous storm.
By midnight (0400 GMT) it was downgraded further to a tropical storm as it barreled across central Georgia, still dumping torrential rain and packing fierce 70 mph winds.
In Florida, pictures and video from Mexico Beach — a community of about 1,000 people where Michael made landfall around midday Wednesday — showed scenes of devastation, with houses floating in flooded streets, some ripped from their foundations and missing roofs.