Hurricane Michael intensified to a Category 4 storm overnight and continued to gain strength this morning. The National Hurricane Center is calling Michael “potentially catastrophic.”
As of 8 a.m., the storm was 90 miles southwest of Panama City, Fla., and moving at 13 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph. Michael is expected to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle this afternoon. The area from Pensacola to Apalachicola and the Big Bend area are expected to be hardest hit.
It would be the first Category 4 storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851.
Forecasters said the storm surge could inundate 325 miles of coast. The National Hurricane Center released these surge projections:
- Tyndall Air Force Base to Aucilla River: 9 to 14 feet
- Okaloosa-Walton county line to Tyndall Air Force Base: 6 to 9 feet
- Aucilla River to Cedar Key: 6 to 9 feet
- Cedar Key to Chassahowitzka: 4 to 6 feet
- Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay: 2 to 4 feet
While Hurricane Florence soaked the Carolinas with up to 30 inches of rain, Michael’s winds present the biggest danger with this storm.
Boaters and marinas were preparing yesterday, as seen in this video from the ABC affiliate in Midway, Fla.
In Mississippi, many charter captains were heading for safe harbor at Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, according to the Sun Herald.