As opposed to Hurricane Florence that struck the Carolinas in a slow, halting manner, Michael grew stronger quickly as it drew near shore.
The Florida region is bracing for “major infrastructure damage,” specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call.
The storm already had a significant impact on offshore energy production. U.S. producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 per cent and natural gas output by 28 per cent on Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.
U.S. President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.
After Florida, the storm is expected to hit Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas — which is still reeling from flooding from Hurricane Florence — and then into Virginia.
The last major hurricane to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
See below for photos of Hurricane Michael’s damage in Florida.