ATLANTA — Hurricane Michael is starting to weaken after moving into southwest Georgia as a major Category 3 hurricane Wednesday evening after slamming the Florida Panhandle.
According to Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz, it's the first time since 1898 that Georgia has taken a direct hit from a major hurricane.
Stay with Channel 2 Action News for updates on Michael.
By 8:07 p.m. Wednesday, the storm had been downgraded to a Category 1. Despite weakening, Michael packed a powerful punch as bands of wind and rain moved into Georgia, sparking tornado warnings.
At 11:15 p.m., the National Hurricane Service said heavy rainfall from Michael could still produce life-threatening flash flooding over portions of Georgia.
High winds, heavy rain and spin-up tornadoes are possible as far north as the metro Atlanta area through early Thursday morning.
The eye of Hurricane Michael came onshore in Florida near Mexico Beach early Wednesday afternoon as a devastating Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph. That's just 2 mph shy of a Category 5. It was the strongest storm on record to hit the Florida Panhandle and the strongest storm, categorized by pressure, to hit the U.S. since Camille in 1969.
Florida officials have confirmed that at least one person was killed by a falling tree in Gadsden County.
[DOWNLOAD: Free Severe Weather Team 2 App]
Early images of coastal areas in Florida show communities that have been decimated by the fierce winds and storm surge. Videos from Mexico Beach, where the storm made landfall, show the seaside town virtually under water.
Governor Nathan Deal put 110 counties under a State of Emergency as Hurricane Michael moved in. FULL LIST HERE.
LIVE Minute-by-Minute Updates
Hurricane Michael weakens with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Storm flooding is gradually decreasing along the Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Michael has now been downgraded to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds. More than Georgia Power 65,000 customers are without power in Georgia and more than 600 individual cases of damage were reported.
The Clarke County School District has announced that schools and district offices will be closed Thursday. The closure includes all after-school activities and events.
Florida officials have confirmed the first U.S. Hurricane Michael-related death.
Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state.
Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower says they received a call around 6 p.m. Wednesday, saying a tree had crashed through the roof of the man's Greensboro home and trapped him. Emergency crews were heading to the home, but downed power lines and blocked roads were making the trip difficult.
Officials hadn't immediately confirmed the man's name.
Severe Weather Team 2 is tracking an area of rotation near Mableton and Lithia Springs.
The University of Georgia will delay opening Thursday until 10 a.m. and classes won't start until 11a.m, officials have announced.
A tornado warning was issued in for Fulton, Douglas and Cobb Counties after. Severe Weather Team 2 spotted a rotation on a cell southwest of Atlanta near Cascade Heights.
Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns saw lofted debris on radar that indicated a possible tornado. We are sending a photographer and a reporter to the scene to check for potential damage.
President Trump likely to visit Georgia next week to survey storm damage.
Heavy rain has moved into southeast Atlanta.
According to Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz, the last time a major hurricane went through Georgia was 1898.
Channel 2's Chris Jose was is starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Michael in Thomasville in southwest Georgia.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that more than 32,000 people are without power in Georgia as Hurricane Michael moved in.
Department of Drivers Services Licensing Centers will be closed Thursday in Albany, Americus, Bainbridge, Cordele, Douglas, Helena, Sandersville, Swansboro, Tifton, Thomasville and Valdosta, officials say.
Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said that radar showed a large area of debris lofted over 11k feet into the air in Crawford County, indicating that a strong tornado possibly touched down there.
Our sister station, WGXA News, was on the scene as stunned residents looked at the damage.
Georgia Power reports that nearly 16,000 customers are without power in southwest Georgia as Hurricane Michael moves into th estate.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston found damage to a Waffle House in Panama City.
Posts on social media from Mexico Beach, Fl. show stunning scenes of a decimated community.
A tornado warning has been issued for Upson County until 4:30 p.m.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has requested that Pres. Trump issue a Major Disaster Declaration following Hurricane Michael's landfall.
An 11 p.m. curfew has been issued by local public safety officials for Milledgeville and Baldwin County. All non-emergency persons are to be off the roadways in Milledgeville & Baldwin County prior to 11 p.m.
Our crews are finding lots of downed trees in Tallahassee.
Harris County Schools have been canceled on Thursday, officials say.
ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee is seeing heavy damage on Mexico Beach.
A tornado watch has been issued for parts of Florida and Georgia until 2 a.m. Thursday.
Telfair and Wheeler Counties in Georgia have been added to the State of Emergency, bringing the total to 110 counties.
The Georgia National Fair in Perry announced that it will close Wednesday and plans to re-open Thursday.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz says winds are gusting along the Florida coast at 128 mph.
Residents in Mexico Beach, Fl. captured catastrophic damage to homes:
The American Red Cross has opened shelters in Bibb and Muscogee Counties. Shelters will open in Richmond and Laurens Counties at 6 p.m. Another shelter in Coffee County will open at 6 p.m. tomorrow night.
The University of North Georgia's Oconee Campus will close at 4 p.m. Wednesday and remain close Thursday due to Hurricane Michael. The campus is scheduled to reopen Friday.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston posted video of damage from Hurricane Michael as he walks around the hotel he was staying.
Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Camille in 1969, in terms of pressure, according to Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston posted video of damage from Hurricane Michael after it moved onto land.
Category 4 Hurricane Michael has officially made landfall on the Florida Panhandle, slamming the coast with 155 mph winds.
Governor Nathan Deal has authorized the activation of 1,500 Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to be ready to move to areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz says Hurricane Michael is beginning to make landfall, the strongest storm ever to hit the Florida Panhandle.
Channel 2's Dave Huddleston says Hurricane Michael is beginning to come on shore in Panama City.
A total of 30,000 people in Florida are without power less than an hour before Hurricane Michael makes landfall.
Gusts of 106 mph is being measured at Port St. Joe in Florida. 6.5 feet of water inundation from storm surge flooding in Apalachicola, Florida.
Jasper County Charter System will close all schools Thursday due to the possible severity of Hurricane Michael.
Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall in less than an hour near Mexico Beach, Florida.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz issued a firm statement on the severity of Hurricane Michael is it nears landfall on the Florida Panhandle:
A hurricane warning is now in effect for parts of central Georgia where gusts over 70 mph may be possible, according to the National Weather Service.
Officials say Hurricane Michael will potentially be a "historic tropical event for central and east Georgia."
Channel 2's Lauren Pozen is with the Henry County Emergency Management Operation Center where they are preparing for Hurricane Michael.
Georgia's Agriculture Commissioner says Hurricane Michael could be catastrophic on Georgia's cotton and pecan crops.
Governor Nathan Deal has placed an 16 additional counties under the State of Emergency: Lamar, Monroe, Butts, Jasper, Morgan, Putnam, Greene, Oconee, Clarke, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Wilkes, Lincoln, Columbia, Mcduffie and Taliaferro.
That brings it to a total of 108 counties.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz says a National Weather Service meteorologist is calling landfall a "worst case scenario."
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls says Hurricane Michael has intensified even more with maximum wind speeds of 150 mph.
Gov. Nathan Deal has arrived at GEMA Homeland Security ahead of his briefing on Hurricane Michael.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls said Hurricane Michael has the potential to further strengthen before landfall.
Hurricane Michael is starting to postpone Georgia high school football games.
Channel 2's reporter Dave Huddleston is in Panama City where rain is falling ahead of the brunt force of Hurricane Michael.
Channel 2's Chris Jose is in downtown Thomasville where he found many businesses boarded up. The fear is wind causing damage and toppling down trees.
Reporter John Bachman for WSB-TV's sister station, Action News Jax, tweeted video of the calm before the storm in Panama City.
Channel 2's Chris Jose is in Thomasville, Georgia where residents are bracing for Hurricane Michael.
The National Weather Service said Hurricane Michael could be a "catastrophic event the likes of which this region has never seen."
The eye of Hurricane Michael is now about 60 miles from Panama City.
The Panama City Beach mayor says that once winds get above 50 mph, the first responders will not be dispatched.
Water level in Apalachicola is up about 5.5 feet.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says that wind gusts from Hurricane Michael are getting stronger.
Tropical storm force winds are already impacting the coast of Florida.
Hurricane Michael's winds are up tio 145 mph with a sharp pressure drop.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for counties in Georgia, including: Upson, Lamar, Jasper, Putnam, Morgan, Greene and Oglethorpe counties.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says Middle Georgia could see 25-45 mph wind with gusts of up to 70 mph today from Hurricane Michael.
Hurricane Michael's eye is now less than 100 miles from Panama City.
Florida's Governor is warning residents that the time for evacuation along the coast has "come and gone."
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says major hurricane landfalls on the Florida Panhandles are rare.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says Hurricane Michael to make landfall along Florida Panhandle between Noon and 3 p.m. today.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says much of Georgia is in a risk for severe storms with damaging winds, heavy rain and isolated tornadoes due to Hurricane Michael.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says Category 4 Hurricane Michael could produce 9-13 foot storm surge along the Florida Panhandle as it makes landfall later today.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says when Michael arrives in south Georgia, it could still be at hurricane strength.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says Hurricane Michael will be the first Category 4 storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since records began 1851.
New weather data shows Hurricane Michael has grown even stronger with maximum winds of 140 mph, with even higher wind gusts.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says wind gusts are as high as 51 mph this morning measured by buoys offshore. The gusts are expected to get much stronger.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says there will be catastrophic flooding from this system in Florida and urged anyone still in the danger zone, to get out.
Channel 2's Linda Stouffer posted a radar picture showing Hurricane Michael's latest position in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a powerful Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph.
[RELATED: How does a hurricane form?]
Summary of Watches and Warnings
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
- Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida to Anclote River Florida
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:
- Anclote River Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River Florida
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border
- Suwanee River Florida to Chassahowitzka Florida
- North of Fernandina Beach Florida to Surf City North Carolina
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
- Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay
- Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Pearl River
- Surf City North Carolina to Duck North Carolina
- Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline.
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area.
Cox Media Group