Hurricane Michael classified as an “extremely dangerous” hurricane
Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm and is expected to strengthen before landfall.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 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.”
The storm is about 80 miles south-southwest of Panama City and is churning toward the Florida coast at 14 mph with sustained winds of 145 mph at its center, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Here is the 8 AM CDT position update for #Michael - water levels are rising and winds increasing along the Florida Panhandle as potentially catastrophic #Michael approaches. pic.twitter.com/lUQdldzMeG
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 10, 2018
Water levels have begun rising along the Panhandle. A picture tweeted by the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office showed storm surge affecting a building near Panacea, Fla.
Storm surge picture from this morning around 6:30am near Rock Landing Florida (near Panacea). Can't stress this enough, these impacts from the surge is only the beginning, it's going to get higher! #Surge #FLwx #HurricaneMichael pic.twitter.com/9JHSV6syhM
— NWS Tallahassee (@NWSTallahassee) October 10, 2018
“It has time to strengthen more and will most likely do so,” said Karen Minton, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist.
Tropical storm-force winds are expected as Michael makes its way across Middle Georgia just south of metro Atlanta. A tropical storm warning has been expanded to include seven North Georgia counties.
“We’re going to see some heavy rain on the east side and south side of our viewing area,” Minton said. “And you could have as much as 3 to 4 in., maybe some 6 to 7 in. amounts of rain, thus the need for the flash flood watch that goes through today and early tomorrow.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 92 Georgia counties that could experience hurricane-force winds and life-threatening flash flooding over the next days.
“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Michael,” Deal said. “In light of the storm’s forecasted track, I encourage Georgians in the affected counties to be prepared and remain vigilant.”
Michael is now stronger than Hurricane Florence was when it made landfall in North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center. Michael would be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle since 1851, according to a tweet from WSB-TV meteorologist Brad Nitz below.
Major hurricane landfall is rare. I did some research and was surprised to find that since 1851 there have been only 6 major hurricanes to make landfall within 75 miles of Panama City Beach. All were Category 3.
Four of these were in the 1800s. pic.twitter.com/RsdaYZUVs4
— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) October 10, 2018
Unlike Florence, Michael is expected to move quickly across the Southeast U.S.