Hurricane Michael becomes Category 4, even more life-threatening

(Photo: NOAA)

Monstrous Hurricane Michael strengthened to a super-destructive Category 4 storm overnight, still taking aim at the northern coast of Florida today. Here’s the latest as of 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday:

• Location: 140 miles SW of Panama City, Florida

• Maximum sustained winds: 140 mph (CAT 4 is 130-156)

• Movement: to the north at 13 mph

• Central pressure: 943 millibars

• Track: Landfall Wednesday near Panama City, Florida around early afternoon, remaining a CAT 4

Wind gusts of 45 mph have already been recorded in Apalachicola this morning, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management has already reported power outages.

Michael will cause widespread wind damage and power outages, as well as extremely dangerous storm surges of 9-12 feet. Surge, along with heavy rainfall, will lead to massive flooding. Severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes could also develop.

The last major hurricane (CAT 3-5) to strike the northern Florida coast was Dennis in 2005. It was a CAT 3. According to records, no CAT 4 has ever directly hit the Florida panhandle. Michael will likely be added to the record books.

Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted this morning that it’s too late to evacuate, urging people who didn’t leave to find a shelter NOW.


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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.