Anxious meteorologists said it had the potential of becoming one of the worst storms in the history of Florida's Panhandle.
By 8 a.m., winds had slowed to 50 mph as Michael crossed SC, about 40 miles west of Columbia, The storm had picked up speed to a fast 21 mph and should continue weakening.
As of 9 a.m. Thursday, the storm was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west-northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, moving northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).
The military families who had to evacuate Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City might not be able to return for weeks, officials said.
And at that point, forecasters expect Michael to strengthen again over open water.
"It is going to go fast", Trump said in an interview with "Fox and Friends". Hurricane warnings are posted across Southwest Georgia, including Albany.
While interests across the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas are urged to get out of coastal areas in Hurricane Michael's warning strike zone as the storm of a lifetime bears down for a Category 4 strike Wednesday, another risky situation is developing inland across Georgia, with the storm poised to inflict rare devastation there, as well. We are working as quickly as possible to make that happen. "It looks like another big one".
The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before. He imposed a curfew and asked for 50 members of the National Guard for protection. We thought the windows were going to break at any time, ' Mr Beu said.
The power of the fierce Category 4 storm is evident in dramatic footage showing demolished homes and submerged neighborhoods. Boats once docked in the canal have been pushed far up onto the land, and much of what would normally be on land floats in the canal.
Many residents hunkered down in designated shelters like this one in Tallahassee, riding out the storm in a sturdier building.More news: India vs West Indies: Kuldeep Yadav turns commentator after Rajkot Test win
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Michael was blamed for at least two deaths: a man in Gadsden County died when a tree fell and a girl in Seminole County, Georgia.
The rain Onslow County experienced yesterday, Austin said, was the outer fringes of the larger circulation, but not the storm itself.
Schools and state offices in the area are to remain shut this week.
"I've never seen anything like this ..." The National Hurricane Center on Friday warned the storm was gaining strength with maximum increasing to 65 miles per hour and would remain unsafe as it moves off toward the Atlantic Ocean through the weekend.
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According to various local electrical providers, more than 800,000 homes have lost power in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and SC as a result of the storm. NPR's Emily Sullivan reports state and local governments are preparing for torrential downpours.
But governor Rick Scott vowed: 'Hurricane Michael can not break Florida'. FEMA is already on Floridian ground providing assistance in the form of the EPA, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. National Hurricane Center (NHC).
SCOTT: That means the water will come miles inshore and could easily rise over the roofs of houses.
SCOTT: This storm surge is absolutely deadly.
"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN. He spoke to WUFT. You have rain. You have wind. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs.
Hurricane Michael is the third-strongest hurricane to hit the continental U.S. The weakening storm on Thursday continued to barrel through the Carolinas, where many areas are still recovering from the damage done by Hurricane Florence.