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article imageCatastrophic Hurricane Michael roars toward Florida coast

By Karen Graham     Oct 10, 2018 in Environment
Panama City Beach - Hurricane Michael is roaring toward the Florida Panhandle and getting even stronger before making landfall later Wednesday. As of 8 a.m. EDT, the intense Category 4 hurricane was packing top sustained winds of 145 mph.
The National Hurricane Center has classified Michael as an “extremely dangerous” hurricane and “a life-threatening event for the northeastern portion of the Gulf Coast.” Nearly 30 million people in the Southeast United States are in Michael's cross-hairs.
The monstrous storm, nearly twice the size of the state of Georgia is about 80 miles south-southwest of Panama City and is churning toward the Florida coast at 13 mph with sustained winds of 145 mph at its center, the NHC reported at 9 a.m.
“The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday morning on Twitter. “First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm. If you chose to stay in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.”
This is one very dangerous hurricane and the NHC has been right on top of every development with the storm, issuing updates every hour this morning as Michael moves closer to what appears to be a direct hit near Panama City Beach between noon and 3:00 p.m. today.
“It has time to strengthen more and will most likely do so,” Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said. By the time Michael makes its way into Georgia later Wednesday and into Thursday, it will likely still be “a very strong hurricane,” she said.
A picture tweeted by the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office Wednesday morning showed storm surge affecting a building near Panacea, Florida. “Can't stress this enough, these impacts from the surge is only the beginning,” the weather service said, “it's going to get higher!”
Michael is moving toward the north near 13 mph (20 kph). A turn toward the north-northeast is expected later this morning, with a turn toward the northeast expected this afternoon or tonight. Its speed is the one good thing about this storm, unlike Florence, which stalled and dropped huge amounts of rain for days.
Michael is now stronger than Florence was when it made landfall, in North Carolina last month, according to the NHC. Michael will be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle since records began in 1851.
“Major hurricane landfall is rare,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz said. “I did some research and was surprised to find that since 1851 there have been only six major hurricanes to make landfall within 75 miles of Panama City Beach. All were Category 3. Four of these were in the 1800s.”
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