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Hurricane Michael left path of destruction, isn't done yet

Connecticut Post logo Connecticut Post 10/11/2018 By JAY REEVES and BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press
a close up of a pond: Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. © Gerald Herbert, AP Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. a group of people standing next to a river: Storm Surge retreats from inland areas, foreground, where boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP) © Douglas R. Clifford, AP Storm Surge retreats from inland areas, foreground, where boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The third-most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in recorded history left a wide path of destruction across Florida and Georgia, destroying homes and shopping centers and felling trees that killed at least two people. And it's not done yet.

Haley Nelson inspects damages to her family properties in the Panama City, Fla., spring field area after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its march inland. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) © Pedro Portal, AP Haley Nelson inspects damages to her family properties in the Panama City, Fla., spring field area after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods before continuing its march inland. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

Hurricane Michael finally weakened to a tropical storm on Thursday, no longer a Category 4 monster packing 155 mph (250 kph) winds. But it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes, soaking areas swamped by epic flooding last month from Hurricane Florence.

a group of people standing next to a body of water: Boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP) © Douglas R. Clifford, AP Boats lay sunk and damaged at the Port St. Joe Marina, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 in Port St. Joe, Fla. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

By 5 a.m., Michael's eye was about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Augusta, Georgia, packing top winds of 50 mph (80 kph) and moving at 21 mph (33 kph) into South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Kaylee O'Brian weeps inside her home after several trees fell on it during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. © Gerald Herbert, AP Kaylee O'Brian weeps inside her home after several trees fell on it during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

Thousands of law enforcement officers and search and rescue teams rolled out in its wake to find survivors amid the wreckage of homes where people defied evacuation orders. Michael washed away white sand beaches, hammered military bases and destroyed coastal communities, stripping trees to stalks, shredding roofs, toppling trucks and pushing boats into buildings.

a person standing next to a brick wall: Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O'Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. © Gerald Herbert, AP Megan Williams, left, and roommate Kaylee O'Brian take belongings from their destroyed home after several trees fell on the house during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

It will take some time for residents of north Florida to take stock of the enormity of the disaster. Reaching the worst-hit areas wasn't easy. The Florida Highway Patrol closed 80 miles of Interstate 10, the main east-west route along Florida's Panhandle, to clear debris.

a pile of garbage: Dorian Carter looks under furniture for a missing cat after several trees fell on their home during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods. © Gerald Herbert, AP Dorian Carter looks under furniture for a missing cat after several trees fell on their home during Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle with terrifying winds of 155 mph Wednesday, splintering homes and submerging neighborhoods.

Many homes were ripped apart or washed away altogether in Mexico Beach, a town of 1,000 where the hurricane made landfall and the storm surge pushed lead-grey water up to the rooftops. Authorities said falling trees killed a man outside Tallahassee, Florida, and an 11-year-old girl in southwest Georgia.

a person standing next to a tree: Carol Ralph walks through downed trees blocking her heavily damaged neighborhood just after Hurricane Michael passed through in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Carol Ralph walks through downed trees blocking her heavily damaged neighborhood just after Hurricane Michael passed through in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

An Associated Press team drove for miles and encountered extensive destruction around Panama City, just west of where the center of Michael's eye hit the shore. Although most homes were still standing, no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away and sent airborne. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees. Hundreds of cars had broken windows, many turned askew by the wind. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Pine trees were stripped into stalks and snapped off about 20 feet high.

a tree in front of a house: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Trees lay on the top of a home after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Trees lay on the top of a home after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

More than 780,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday in the wake of the storm.

Boats sit in a storage warehouse damaged from Hurricane Michael at Treasure Island Marina in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Investors are tracking�Hurricane�Michael�as it barrels toward Florida with winds strengthening to 145 miles per hour, posing potential consequences for companies in the building, hospital, insurance and energy industries, among others. The Category 4 storm, poised to be the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, is�expected�to make landfall Wednesday and could cause $16 billion in damage. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Boats sit in a storage warehouse damaged from Hurricane Michael at Treasure Island Marina in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Investors are tracking�Hurricane�Michael�as it barrels toward Florida with winds strengthening to 145 miles per hour, posing potential consequences for companies in the building, hospital, insurance and energy industries, among others. The Category 4 storm, poised to be the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, is�expected�to make landfall Wednesday and could cause $16 billion in damage. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Families tentatively emerged from darkened shelters and hotels to this unfamiliar and perilous landscape, under a perfectly clear blue sky, to the sounds of a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over damaged neighborhoods, beeping security alarms and the occasional sirens of police and fire department vehicles.

a close up of a truck: A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home, Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and his ears even popped when the barometric pressure went lower. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

a sign on the side of a building: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Broken awnings are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Broken awnings are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time," Beu said.

a tree in front of a house: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: A damaged home is seen after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: A damaged home is seen after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

a close up of an old building: Debris lays on the ground of a Booze Express store as Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Investors are tracking�Hurricane�Michael�as it barrels toward Florida with winds strengthening to 145 miles per hour, posing potential consequences for companies in the building, hospital, insurance and energy industries, among others. The Category 4 storm, poised to be the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, is�expected�to make landfall Wednesday and could cause $16 billion in damage. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Debris lays on the ground of a Booze Express store as Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Investors are tracking�Hurricane�Michael�as it barrels toward Florida with winds strengthening to 145 miles per hour, posing potential consequences for companies in the building, hospital, insurance and energy industries, among others. The Category 4 storm, poised to be the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, is�expected�to make landfall Wednesday and could cause $16 billion in damage. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

"It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic," Crown said. "There's flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered."

A tree lays across a road as Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Investors are tracking�Hurricane�Michael�as it barrels toward Florida with winds strengthening to 145 miles per hour, posing potential consequences for companies in the building, hospital, insurance and energy industries, among others. The Category 4 storm, poised to be the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, is�expected�to make landfall Wednesday and could cause $16 billion in damage. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg © Provided by Hearst Newspapers A tree lays across a road as Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. Investors are tracking�Hurricane�Michael�as it barrels toward Florida with winds strengthening to 145 miles per hour, posing potential consequences for companies in the building, hospital, insurance and energy industries, among others. The Category 4 storm, poised to be the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, is�expected�to make landfall Wednesday and could cause $16 billion in damage. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The debris was a problem in many coastal communities and still hundreds of thousands of people were also left without power.

PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: A stores windows are seen shattered as hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: A stores windows are seen shattered as hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Gov. Rick Scott said search and rescue efforts would be "aggressive."

PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Mike Lindsey stands in his antique shop after the winds from hurricane Michael broke the windows in his shop on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Mike Lindsey stands in his antique shop after the winds from hurricane Michael broke the windows in his shop on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida," Scott vowed.

a person sitting at a table with a cake: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Jane Lindsey tries to salvage her dolls from the water running into her store after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Jane Lindsey tries to salvage her dolls from the water running into her store after hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to evacuate, but it moved so fast that people didn't have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings , thinking they could ride it out.

a man standing in front of a window: Hotel employees look at a canopy that just collapsed, as Hurricane Michael passes through in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Hotel employees look at a canopy that just collapsed, as Hurricane Michael passes through in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express. Part of the awning fell and shattered the glass front door of the hotel, and the rest of the awning wound up on vehicles parked below it.

A woman checks on her vehicle as Hurricane Michael passes through, after the hotel canopy had just collapsed, in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers A woman checks on her vehicle as Hurricane Michael passes through, after the hotel canopy had just collapsed, in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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

a sign on a dirt road: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Debris is blown down a street by Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Debris is blown down a street by Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

This photo made available by NASA shows they eye of Hurricane Michael, as seen from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (NASA via AP) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers This photo made available by NASA shows they eye of Hurricane Michael, as seen from the International Space Station on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (NASA via AP)

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming. Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires, and Michael was fueled by abnormal water temperatures in the Gulf — 4-to-5 degrees above the historic norm for this time of year. But without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

This infrared satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Michael approaching the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at 11:40 a.m. EDT. (NOAA via AP) © Associated Press This infrared satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Michael approaching the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at 11:40 a.m. EDT. (NOAA via AP)

After Michael left the Panhandle late Wednesday, Kaylee O'Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, nearly hitting two people.

a close up of a map: Rain prediction for Hurricane Michael over the next 3 days. (Greg Good/TNS) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Rain prediction for Hurricane Michael over the next 3 days. (Greg Good/TNS)

Her biggest worry: finding her missing 1-year-old Siamese cat, Molly.

a group of people sitting on a bed: Emily Hindle lies on the floor at an evacuation shelter set up at Rutherford High School, in advance of Hurricane Michael, which is expected to make landfall today, in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Emily Hindle lies on the floor at an evacuation shelter set up at Rutherford High School, in advance of Hurricane Michael, which is expected to make landfall today, in Panama City Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"We haven't seen her since the tree hit the den. She's my baby," a distraught O'Brien said, her face wet with tears.

a group of palm trees next to a body of water: SHELL POINT BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 10: The storm surge and waves from Hurricane Michael batter the beachfront homes on October 10, 2018 in the Florida Panhandle community of Shell Point Beach, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) © Provided by Hearst Newspapers SHELL POINT BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 10: The storm surge and waves from Hurricane Michael batter the beachfront homes on October 10, 2018 in the Florida Panhandle community of Shell Point Beach, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

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a person standing next to a body of water: Cameron Sadowski walks along where waves are crashing onto the beach as the outer bands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City Beach, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. © Provided by Hearst Newspapers Cameron Sadowski walks along where waves are crashing onto the beach as the outer bands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City Beach, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm.

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Florida; Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Florida; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this story.

a man standing in front of a boat: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Ellis Davis makes sure his boat is secure as the outer bands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Joe Raedle, Getty Images PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Ellis Davis makes sure his boat is secure as the outer bands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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a little girl sitting on a table: PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Neko Blaine holds Alaina Blaine, 4, as they sit in the lobby of the Hilton Gardens Inn after leaving their home for a safer place as the outer bands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Joe Raedle, Getty Images PANAMA CITY, FL - OCTOBER 10: Neko Blaine holds Alaina Blaine, 4, as they sit in the lobby of the Hilton Gardens Inn after leaving their home for a safer place as the outer bands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

For the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

a person standing in front of a car: Kathy Eaton takes what she can from her home as she tries to get out of the way of the storm as the outerbands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City Beach, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm.

Kathy Eaton takes what she can from her home as she tries to get out of the way of the storm as the outerbands of hurricane Michael arrive on October 10, 2018 in Panama City Beach, Florida. The hurricane is forecast to hit the Florida Panhandle at a possible category 4 storm.
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