Hurricane Michael arrived in the afternoon, its wind shoving — and shoving again — like an incessant bully. Behind a hotel window, the shoves came with a whoosh of bass and ominous squeaking from the places where the glass bowed, aching against the jambs.
It was not what people are used to in Panama City, a place that has not seen a storm this ugly in a long time. Nestled under Alabama on the Florida Panhandle, the area is built on the promise of making vacationers happy on a budget. The sands of Panama City Beach are the color of polished bone, its wide boulevards a riot of tacky and welcoming crab shacks, surf shops and putt-putts. The country singer Lee Brice, in a droll poetic reversal, once compared Panama City’s sunsets to the airbrushed T-shirts for sale there.