Palm trees are seen during a Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, U.S., October 10, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. (Xinhua/WeatherNation/via REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Destructive Category 4 Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach in southeastern U.S. state of Florida on early Wednesday afternoon.
With maximum-sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, just shy of a Category 5 storm, Michael is the most powerful storm on record to hit Florida's Panhandle, a region rimmed with tourist beaches and fishing villages.
The hurricane could push up to 14 feet (4.3 meters) of ocean water onto the coast and drench many areas across southeastern United States with torrential rains, meteorologists said.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation," the National Weather Service said.
"Hurricane Michael has made landfall, and we are continuing to prepare rapid response efforts. We have trucks loaded with tons of food, water, and other critical supplies ready to move in - including 1.5 million Meals Ready-to-Eat and 1 million gallons of water," Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted.
Michael grew from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in about 40 hours, leaving many residents trapped in slow evacuation efforts.
On Wednesday morning, the governor said on Twitter that it's already too late for evacuation for northern Florida residents.
"The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone. First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm," he said hours before the hurricane's landfall.
More than one million power outages could occur near the coast and parts of inland of three U.S. southeastern states, namely Florida, Georgia and Alabama, experts said, noting that in some areas, power outages may last over a week.
The rainfall flooding caused by the hurricane is also a significant threat inland into the Carolinas. A storm surge watch has been issued for portions of North Carolina.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Florida.
More than 6 million residents in Florida were forced to evacuate last year ahead of Hurricane Irma's landfall, which flooded multiple cities while left millions without power. The repair bill came in at more than 60 billion dollars, ranking Irma one of the costliest storms in U.S. history.