As Hurricane Michael barreled through the Gulf of Mexico toward northwest Florida on Wednesday, dangerous storm surges had already begun flooding the state’s vulnerable coastal communities.
In St. Marks, roughly 20 miles south of Tallahassee, photos showed rising waters pouring into homes and businesses as early as Wednesday morning.
“Flooding underway already in St. Marks and it’s low tide,” tweeted NPR’s Miami correspondent Greg Allen. “And the hurricane is still hours away.”
Flooding underway already in St. Marks and it’s low tide. And the hurricane is still hours away. pic.twitter.com/iUpZZhyVis
— Greg Allen (@gallennpr) October 10, 2018
Michael intensified to a Category 4 early Wednesday with winds of 155 mph, making it the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in 100 years.
Life-threatening storm surges of up to 14 feet are expected in some areas, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday. “THIS IS A WORST CASE SCENARIO for the Florida Panhandle!!” the agency tweeted.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has urged anyone in an evacuation zone to leave immediately, calling the storm “monstrous” and “deadly.”
Check out the photos below to see the early devastation wrought by Michael:
NASA via AP This photo made available by NASA shows the eye of Hurricane Michael, as seen from the International Space Station on Oct. 10, 2018. Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Floodwaters hit the Cooter Stew Cafe in St. Marks, Florida, on Oct. 10, as Hurricane Michael pushes the storm surge up the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers, which come together in the town. Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Mitchell Pope tries to salvage what he can from his mobile home on Oct. 10 in St. Marks. Luis Santana/The Tampa Bay Times via AP Flight director and NOAA meteorologist Richard Henning looks at a satellite view of Hurricane Michael from his workstation aboard NOAA’s Gulfstream IV jet, a high-flying platform used for hurricane forecasting and research, on Oct. 10. Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Bo Lynn’s Market starts taking water in the town of St. Marks on Oct. 10. Carlo Allegri / Reuters Waves wash over a house as Hurricane Michael comes ashore in Alligator Point, Florida, on Oct. 10. AP Photo/Brendan Farrington The St. Marks River overflows into the town of St. Marks, ahead of Hurricane Michael, on Oct. 10. Jonathan Bachman / Reuters Waves crash along a pier as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10. Carlo Allegri / Reuters Lenora Adams loads up her dog as she evacuates a motel in Panacea, Florida, on Oct. 10. Jonathan Bachman / Reuters A message has been written on a closed business as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10. Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP An unidentified person takes pictures of the surf and fishing pier on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10. RELATED COVERAGE Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall In Florida As Dangerous Category 4 Storm How To Prepare For A Hurricane Bigger, Slower, Rainier: What Does Florence Portend About The Future Of Hurricanes? Download