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.