The threshold for a Category 5 hurricane is 157 miles per hour maximum sustained winds.
Prior to making landfall in the USA, flooding from Michael had already led to at least 13 deaths in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
More than 40 percent of daily crude oil production and more than one-third of natural gas output was lost from offshore US Gulf of Mexico wells on Wednesday because of platform evacuations and shut-ins caused by Michael.
Across the bay in Panama City Beach, a resort city on the Gulf of Mexico known for its white-sand beach and amusement parks, winds of about 100 miles per hour furiously whipped the trees in the early afternoon and pulled apart homes.
For the big tourist destinations of Panama City Beach, Destin and Fort Walton, it could be months before they are back on an even keel as the hurricane destroyed homes, businesses and resorts, uprooted thousands of trees, and tore down power lines across the region. "We sent the data to the National Hurricane Center and watched it go from a Category 1 to a Category 2 storm while we were fixing the center, and it appeared to be intensifying".
The storm, the most severe to hit the Florida Panhandle in a century, brought flash floods, inundating roads and homes.
The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.
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Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long said at the White House that he was especially concerned about buildings constructed before 2001, and not able to withstand such high winds.
"Sadly, 99 percent of people are good and out there and trying to help each other", Bondi said on Thursday during an interview with FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo. "And if not, that they're not in those structures".
Gulf Power, which provides electricity to northwest Florida, said it had about 112,000 customers without power.
The three astronauts living on the International Space Station caught a terrifying glimpse of Hurricane Michael arriving on the western coast of Florida earlier today (Oct. 10).
"You can not hide from storm surge". An 80-mile stretch of I-10 west of Tallahassee was closed to clear debris.
A National Guard team found 20 survivors there overnight and more crews were working through the wreckage on Thursday.
At 1am GMT, maximum sustained winds decreased to 90mph with higher gusts, the NHC said in a bulletin. On Thursday, Michael was drenching the Carolinas with heavy rains as it headed toward the Atlantic Ocean as a tropical storm. The utility said some of the outages from Michael "could last several days" and anticipated as many as half a million outages across the Carolinas.
Here, boats docked in Panama City, Fla., are seen in a pile of rubble after Michael passed through the downtown area on Wednesday.