WORST-CASE SCENARIO

The earliest photos of Hurricane Michael show its brutal intensity

A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach, Florida.
A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Image: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
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Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle earlier today (Oct. 10). It arrived as a Category 4 storm, a stunning development given that it was upgraded to a Category 2 only yesterday. With winds reaching around 150 mph (240 km per hour), the hurricane generated weather dangerous enough to force the closure of 18 Waffle Houses, the ubiquitous restaurant chain that’s often one of the few places to stay open during the worst weather scenarios. The National Weather Service described the storm as a “worst case scenario.”

Photos from the morning before landfall and the earliest hours after the storm’s arrival underscore why this is a storm to fear. Images show massive waves lapping up against piers and beachfront homes, structures collapsing, and early flooding that is a precursor to a possible 14 ft (4.25 meters) of expected storm surge.

A truck drives along a road that has been washed out in Alligator Point, Florida.
A truck drives along a road that has been washed out in Alligator Point, Florida.
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
Panama City Beach, Florida, as Hurricane Michael approaches on Oct. 10.
Panama City Beach, Florida, as Hurricane Michael approaches on Oct. 10.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman
Waves crash along a pier in Panama City Beach.
Waves crash along a pier in Panama City Beach.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman
Palm trees battle intense wind in Panama City.
Palm trees battle intense wind in Panama City.
Image: WeatherNation vai Reuters
Hotel employees in Panama City Beach survey damage caused by the hurricane.
Hotel employees in Panama City Beach survey damage caused by the hurricane.
Image: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Waves take over a house as Hurricane Michael comes ashore in Alligator Point.
Waves take over a house as Hurricane Michael comes ashore in Alligator Point.
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri