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Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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Daystarter: Everything you need to know about Hurricane Michael: Latest from Mexico Beach; how it developed so fast; photos of the devastation; and an interactive flood map

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• The Tampa Bay area was spared the wrath of Hurricane Michael, and weather should start a gradual return to normalcy today, according to the National Weather Service. It will be breezy and cloudy in the morning but both should lighten up later in the day. Temperatures will be slightly cooler, maxing out in the high 80s. But scattered thundershowers aren’t going anywhere.

• As you head out for your morning commute, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Naked Magicians.

• Hurricane Michael was the most powerful storm on record to ever strike the Florida Panhandle. Read about the devastation it wrought from Panama City to Port St. Joe to Tallahassee to Cedar Key from the Tampa Bay Times. And check out the latest Michael developments today at tampabay.com.

• Fires burn with no one to put them out. Cars and trucks stacked like toys. Stairs lead to houses that no longer exist. Trees bent over, as if trying to run from something. Hurricane Michael slammed into North Florida on Wednesday with historic fury, and one of the communities hit hardest was Mexico Beach, a town of about 1,100 near where the monster storm first made landfall. Zachary T. Sampson and Douglas R. Clifford made their way to the devastated town early this morning; get an early view of the destruction.

• Hurricane Michael didn’t give Floridians much time to brace for its devastating impact. Just a few days before it made landfall Wednesday afternoon near the Florida Panhandle’s Mexico Beach, the storm was a loosely organized system just north of Honduras. On Saturday, forecasters said the system had a good chance of forming into a major storm, but few — if any — predicted its eventual speed and intensity. What caused Michael’s lightning quick transformation from ominous system to Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour? We asked weather expert Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with the IBM-owned Weather Underground.

• Want to see flooding caused by Hurricane Michael in real time? Check out this interactive map courtesy of Langston Taylor.

• What was the view of Hurricane Michael from 45,000 feet as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico? Howard Altman rode along with a crew from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on board the twin-engine Gulfstream IV jet, nicknamed Gonzo. And check out photographer Luis Santana’s photo gallery aboard Gonzo.

• Check out our live blog for complete coverage and a recap of the storm’s fury, and photos illustrating the damage.

• For the latest business news, check out the Times business section.

• Ron DeSantis and the Florida GOP are launching their toughest attack ad yet against Andrew Gillum — but in the middle of a historic hurricane lashing the Florida Panhandle? Craig Fugate, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and Florida Emergency Management Director, took to Twitter to urge DeSantis and other candidates to knock it off during this crisis, reports Adam C. Smith.

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• It’s time to plan your weekend! Our critics and writers have laid out their top picks on our Weekend Planner page from Kid Rock in concert to the many Oktoberfest celebrations across the area.

• Mary Chapin Carpenter is coming to Clearwater tonight, and she has something to say about the little black rectangle she calls "that tracking device in your back pocket." Read what she had to say here to pop music critic Jay Cridlin.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to check The Gradebook.

• Now that we are well into October, are you getting that Halloween feeling? We have a roundup of our reviews of haunted houses at the theme parks and beyond, and this week’s Halloween events, parties and fall festivals

• To get the latest Rays’ news this offseason, click here.

• The latest Bucs news is just one click away. Check out the Tampa Bay Times coverage all season long.

• To keep up with the Lightning’s quest for a Stanley Cup, make sure to click here throughout the season.

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