A look at the forecasts and impacts of Hurricane Michael

Powerful and deadly Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday October 10, 2018, near Mexico Beach, Florida, pulverizing homes, snapping trees and leaving hundreds of thousands powerless

With 155 mph winds at landfall, Michael was nearly a Category 5 storm that smashed records as the strongest ever to roar onto the state's exposed Panhandle.

It was also the strongest October hurricane on record to make landfall anywhere in the United States. 

“This morning, Florida’s Gulf Coast and Panhandle and the Big Bend are waking up to unimaginable destruction,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday morning. “So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. … This hurricane was an absolute monster.”

AFP AFP_19X5QL A WEA USA FL
TOPSHOT - Storm damage is seen after Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida on October 10, 2018. - Michael slammed into the Florida coast on October 10 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern US state in more than a century as officials warned it could wreak "unimaginable devastation." Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, a town about 20 miles (32kms) southeast of Panama City, around 1:00 pm Eastern time (1700 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Hurricane ORIG FILE ID: AFP_19X5QL
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP/Getty Images

The forecast path

Although weakening, Michael continued to rampage through the Southeast on Thursday before racing offshore on Friday. Flash flooding and tornadoes were possible in the Carolinas and Virginia on Thursday. Projected path of Michael:

GTY 1051883992 A WEA MET DIS USA FL
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 11: Debris is strewn next to a mobile home destroyed by Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051883992
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Potential flash flood risk

Top wind speeds

Michael made landfall as a 155-mph, Category 4 storm, making it the third-strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S., when measured by barometric pressure. By wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest hurricane to make landfall on U.S. shores. Michael's biggest wind gusts:

GTY 1051882830 A WEA MET DIS USA FL
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 11: Amanda Logsdon begins the process of trying to clean up her home after the roof was blown off by the passing winds of hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051882830
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Power outages

Roughly 800,000 customers were without power in the Southeast on Thursday due to Michael's ferocious winds. The vast majority of outages were in Georgia, Florida and Virginia. Counties reporting outages due to Michael, Wednesday — Friday:

Gas shortages

AFP AFP_19Y1MK A WEA USA
The overhang of a gas station is toppled over in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Inlet Beach, Florida. - Residents of the Florida Panhandle woke to scenes of devastation Thursday after Michael tore a path through the coastal region as a powerful hurricane that killed at least two people. (Photo by Emily KASK / AFP)EMILY KASK/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Hurricane ORIG FILE ID: AFP_19Y1MK
EMILY KASK, AFP/Getty Images

The biggest storms

Michael will be remembered as one of the worst storms to hit the U.S., and will surely have its name "retired" by the World Meteorological Organization next year. The other disastrous storm this year, Hurricane Florence, will likely also have its name retired. The most powerful hurricanes to hit the continental U.S. since 1950:

Hurricane categories

Hurricane Michael made landfall with winds of 155 mph, making it a strong Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. It missed being a Category 5 by only 2 mph. What scale 1 to 5 looks like: 

GTY 1051907864 A WEA USA FL
MEXICO BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 11: Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael litters the ground on October 11, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Florida. The hurricane hit the panhandle area with category 4 winds causing major damage. (Photo by Chris O'Meara-Pool/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051907864
Pool, Getty Images

How a hurricane forms

GTY 1051884006 A WEA MET DIS USA FL
PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 11: People walk past an apartment destroyed by Hurricane Michael on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775241167 ORIG FILE ID: 1051884006
Joe Raedle, Getty Images