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Hurricane Michael making landfall in the Florida Panhandle as one of the most intense hurricanes on record. Image: CIRA/RAMMB

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach, Florida as a high-end Category 4 storm early Wednesday afternoon — the strongest such storm on record to hit the Florida Panhandle and one of the strongest ever to strike the continental U.S.

Why it matters: This storm has caused catastrophic damage in parts of the Florida Panhandle where the core of the storm first moved ashore. Hurricane Michael will continue to cause damage overnight as it moves through Georgia and into South Carolina, with hundreds of thousands likely losing power. The storm has set milestones even as it moved further inland, becoming the first Category 3 storm to hit Georgia in 120 years (and doing so after it passed through another state, no less).

Details:

  • Damage reports so far are widespread and severe, particularly in Mexico Beach, Florida, where the eye first came ashore, as well as Panama City, Florida. Even veteran storm chasers who have been inside the world's most powerful storms have been stunned at the damage.
  • Damage will extend well inland into Georgia and the Carolinas, as weakening is only slowly occurring. Tree and power line damage will be extensive, and could occur all the way into portions of North Carolina.
  • Tropical storm warnings have been issued all the way to the Atlantic coast of North Carolina, as Hurricane Michael is expected to remain a formidable storm for days.
  • Millions will be without power by Thursday morning, and some may not see electricity restored for weeks.

The big picture: Hurricane Michael ranks in the top 3 hurricanes of all time to make landfall in anywhere in the continental U.S., in terms of its minimum central air pressure at landfall, which was 919 millibars.

  • By this metric, it was stronger than Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina.
  • According to hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach, only two other hurricanes have made landfall in the U.S. with a lower atmospheric pressure than Hurricane Michael (in general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm).
  • Regarding the storm's 155-mile-per-hour sustained winds at landfall, no prior hurricane has hit the Florida Panhandle with winds as strong as Hurricane Michael.

Between the lines: Overnight on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, Hurricane Michael underwent a period of explosive intensification that was not explicitly forecast by any computer models or human forecasters.

  • In just a few hours on Tuesday night, Hurricane Michael developed the classic "look" of a devastating Category 4 or 5 storm, with a clearly defined eye surrounded by towering thunderstorms extending high into the atmosphere.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Our thought bubble: Hurricane Michael illustrates a scenario that meteorologists have worried about for years — a rapidly intensifying hurricane moving toward the coast at a steady clip, giving coastal residents precious little time to prepare.

Many people may not have evacuated when seeing the storm as just a Category 2 storm earlier on Tuesday. However, by the time the storm reached its fearsome peak, it was too late.

Go deeper: Our full Hurricane Michael coverage

Go deeper

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

Exclusive: Hundreds of kids held in Border Patrol stations

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo to get to El Paso, Texas. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

More than 700 children who crossed from Mexico into the United States without their parents were in Border Patrol custody as of Sunday, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The current backup is yet another sign of a brewing crisis for President Biden — and a worsening dilemma for these vulnerable children. Biden is finding it's easier to talk about preventing warehousing kids at the southern border than solving the problem.

Pompeo plots 2024 power play

Mike Pompeo in Washington on Feb. 12. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Mike Pompeo has quickly reentered the political fray, raising money for Republicans, addressing key political gatherings and joining an advocacy group run by Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. His professional moves this week indicate he's working to keep his name in the headlines and bolster a political brand built largely on foreign policies easily contrasted with the Biden White House.