Hurricane Michael made landfall earlier this morning as the most powerful hurricane to hit the state of Florida since Andrew in 1992.
I want to start this by saying, sincerely, that we're all praying for the people of the Florida Panhandle. I lived in Mobile for six years and have a number of friends still living in Pensacola and Panama City Beach.
The early pictures coming out of Panama City especially are truly shocking.
The Panhandle was not only pelted with winds nearing 155 mph, but storm surge that has been estimated to be up to 12 feet.
What made all of this worse was how surprising the strength of the storm was. I was having this discussion with some people earlier today that asked why more people didn't evacuate. And the reason is pretty simple - they didn't think they would have to.
Remember earlier in the week Tropical Storm Michael was just a blip on the news radar. It was expected to be a pretty weak system, and even as of yesterday was predicted to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane.
And I can tell you from experience - while a Category 2 hurricane is nothing to sneeze at, people that have lived on the Coast can tell you that it's usually a storm that you can ride out. Most buildings along the coastline are made to withstand Category 2 winds, and houses right on the beach are often built on stilts in case of flooding. So, yesterday, when Michael was a Category 2, the common thought was that the extent of the damage would be some downed power lines and trees.
For this to turn into the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida in 25 years was a complete shock to EVERYONE.
The damage caused by Michael already appears to be catastrophic, and I'm sure even more shocking images will come out during the next few days after the storm has passed.
If you want to help the victims of Hurricane Michael, you can make a donation through the American Red Cross here. If you'd rather work with a local organization, Music City Cares has set up a fund which they will then distribute to nonprofits in the affected area to help in whatever ways are needed.