While forecasting a storm's path requires broad information on large-scale factors around a storm, such as winds and air pressure, forecasts of intensity require detailed, specific data from the most violent part of a hurricane's interior, not the easiest place to do science.
Head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, called Mexico Beach "ground zero" due to the damage.
Michael was a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, just shy of a rare Category 5, when it came ashore.
Cars, mattresses, grills and toilets were tossed all over town.
"We had furniture in our house that wasn't even ours", Scott Boutwell said, explaining that when he returned to his home Thursday the only belongings he could find was a briefcase.
"I think that we had an exceptionally high rate of evacuees because we had the message, we kept putting it out", Sheriff Smith told Fox's "Your World with Neil Cavuto".
In Georgia, some of the worst damage hit the southwestern section of the state, where it devastated farms at a particularly vulnerable time of the year. "When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home". "You couldn't see anything anywhere".
"I have had employees going to the communities where our kids live, going door to door and checking", Principal Britt Smith said by phone. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees.
"We don't know where she's at", he said.
The images, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, show severe damage in Mexico Beach, Florida, which took an nearly direct hit from one of the most powerful storms to make landfall on the USA mainland.
Picture taken October 11, 2018.
The hurricane arrived near Mexico Beach in Florida at 6pm BST on Wednesday (2pm EDT), before moving through to Georgia.
Brooks said Duke Energy's main focus will be essential services like hospitals, fire departments and police departments.
Mexico Beach, Florida, looked as if a bomb had gone off as residents emerged to tally their losses.
Contributors in Florida include Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Panama City, Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, and Jennifer Kay and Freida Frisaro in Miami.
Update (9:17 a.m.): Emergency crews across Hampton Roads are working to remove trees and downed power lines from roadways. Homes were swallowed in storm surge. She's desperate for news about the condition of her home, but she can't reach anyone, she says.
Michael ripped apart beach homes and boats, she said. One died at the scene. The rest were missing roofs or siding.
Her brother was able to tell a friend that his home was starting to get cracks in the walls and water was rushing in Wednesday.
On the left, as we walk, there's a mattress slumped at the roadside, on the right a Dean Noontz novel lies in the dirt.
He said the state "saw some powerful rushing waters yesterday", adding that first responders rescued almost 100 people and evacuated many more affected by flash flooding.
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. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.
Ms Baldwin adds: "As we watch the deterioration along the coastline, it was bad in Panama City beach, but I've never seen anything like this". "You want to check on things, and begin the recovery process", Mr. Scott said.