Farmers in northern Florida have been working overtime to protect crops and livestock as Hurricane Michael hits the coast near Panama City in what could be the most powerful storm ever recorded to strike the state's Panhandle region.
The "potentially catastrophic" category 4 hurricane that took a northward path to the Florida Panhandle is reported to be producing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour and even higher gusts. The National Weather Service warned about "life-threatening storm surges" of 10 feet or more and heavy rainfall.
Forecasters also have warned about dangerous storm conditions in Alabama and Georgia, as well as possible tornadoes. In all, about 30 million people across the Southeast region are in the path of Michael.
"The bull's-eye is going to be western Florida, the southeastern corner of Alabama and then southwest Georgia," said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "That's where you're going to have extensive wind damage as that eye wall pushes through."
There's a concern the heavy rain and winds could wallop the peanut and cotton crop as well as damage pecan production. Pecan trees are vulnerable to getting blown over, as was the case in 2016's Hurricane Matthew when portions of the Southeast growing region lost more than 10 percent of the trees.