Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall as a Category 4 Storm

The Latest Michael strengthens into Category 2 hurricane

It is nearly a major hurricane with sustained winds at 110 miles per hour. "There may be some increased wind speed, a little breezier than usual, (and) what you would expect from how far we are from the eye of the storm".

The last major hurricane - Category 3 or above - to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis, which made landfall near Pensacola in 2005, according to hurricane center data.

The hurricane center, citing Michael's unsafe trifecta of storm surge, flash flooding and winds, described the seventh hurricane of the Atlantic season as "life-threatening".

The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade. Some parts of the Carolinas - recently deluged by Hurricane Florence - and southern Virginia could see up to 6 inches, the hurricane center said.

The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for.

Wakulla County issued a dire warning, saying it won't open any of its shelters - because they're safety-rated only for storms up to Category 2 strength, WFSU reports. "First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm", said Florida Governor Rick Scott in a tweet early Wednesday.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in coastal and low-lying areas along the Panhandle, including at least four counties and parts of Panama City. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case during the next 12 hours.

Florida has declared a state of emergency over Hurricane Michael. A Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of between 130 miles per hour and 156 miles per hour.

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Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Florida.

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

He said a National Weather Service forecast of a storm surge of eight to 12 feet is "absolutely deadly" and could swamp homes along a seven-county swath of rural Florida stretching for about 220 miles, from Gulf County to Cedar Key in Levy County.

"If you don't follow warnings from officials this storm could kill you", said Scott, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in November's congressional elections.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts 4 to 8 inches of rain could fall on the Florida Panhandle, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia.

Terrifying storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m) could also crash along the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center.

Michael could dump up to a foot (30 centimetres) of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", the NWS in Tallahassee, Florida, tweeted Wednesday morning.

After it makes landfall, the storm is predicted to pass into Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency covering 92 counties - almost the entire lower two-thirds of his state.

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