Watch Hurricane Michael make landfall on Florida webcams

Waves crash along a pier as the outerbands of hurricane Michael arrive in Panama City Beach Florida

At least 388,000 utility customers lost power as Hurricane Michael crashed ashore -- with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 miles per hour -- between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, before speeding north into Alabama and Georgia on Wednesday.

Florida officials said Michael, packing winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph), was the most powerful storm to hit the southern U.S. state in more than a century.

"It is extremely emotional", she said, fighting tears.

Its winds shrieking, the Category 4 storm crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a lightly populated, 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases. "We have trees being uprooted, heavy, heavy rain". All the way up to the Carolinas, destructive flooding from the storm's rains is expected.

It is rare for a storm to be at Category 5 strength as it makes landfall in the U.S. The last one was Hurricane Andrew in South Florida in August 1992.

Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Oct. 10, 2018.

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Those storms left a trail of destruction: the 1935 hurricane was responsible for 408 deaths in the Keys, while Camille was linked to 256 deaths in two states, according to the hurricane center.

"It feels like you don't know when the next tree is going to fall on top of you because its blowing so ferociously", he said by telephone.

If Hurricane Florence was a slow-motion train wreck, Hurricane Michael is a 4-ton wrecking ball.

Hurricane Michael, the most powerful on record to hit the Florida Panhandle since 1851, is tracking north toward Georgia and the Carolinas and bringing unsafe storm surges and flooding.

Duke Energy Florida expected 100,000 to 200,000 customers to lose power.

At landfall, Michael's wind strength was just 2 miles per hour under the threshold for a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest grade of hurricane.

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Keep in mind that conditions could cause these cameras to go offline.

"I think that if people are comparing storms, what was really fascinating was that it was still intensifying when it was making landfall, which is similar to Hurricane Camille also intensifying as it moved inland", says AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. According to the National Hurricane Center, "most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months".

Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

Part of the reason Hurricane Michael became so strong and developed so quickly is that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico are much warmer right now than what's normal for October.

"Oh my God, what are we seeing?" said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open.

General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm. Up to a foot (30 cm) of rainfall was forecast for some areas. Governor Rick Scott said there was a "lot of roof damage" in the storm's path.

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