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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.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
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.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO

The earliest photos of Hurricane Michael show its brutal intensity

By Johnny Simon

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.

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