Hurricane Michael upgraded to 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm

'Potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 2, targets Florida

The storm is expected to cause wide-spread power outages, high winds and heavy rain in Alabama.

Hurricane Michael strengthened into a Category 4 storm early on Wednesday before it was expected to plow into Florida's Gulf shore with towering waves and roof-shredding winds as 500,000 people were under evacuation orders and advisories.

"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades", Gov. Rick Scott said. "It will be life-threatening and extremely risky. You can not hide from this storm".

The storm is now a Category 3 storm packing winds of more than 120 miles per hour and is expected to grow even more potent before it makes landfall Wednesday, likely near Panama City Beach.

A number mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Florida counties ahead of Michael. "This is game time", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said.

Much of the state saw the "real thing" a year ago, when Hurricane Irma force more than 6 million evacuations, flooded cities and left millions without power. The fix bill came in at more than $60 billion, ranking Irma among the most costly storms in USA history.

As Hurricane Michael gains strength and heads toward Florida, some are seeing an eerie sight popping up in satellite images from the center of the storm.a skull.

Storms can force the tide in or out, which means possible flooding, but a recent dry spell locally means the ground can withstand more rainfall, Orrock said.

Scott said the Florida Panhandle, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia will see 4 to 8 inches, with isolated areas facing 12 inches.

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The Republican governor, who is campaigning for a US Senate seat in the November congressional elections, warned of the potential for a deadly storm surge that could be as much as 12 feet (3.7 meters) above normal sea water levels.

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Michael", Deal said.

In terms of wind intensity, that would make it stronger than Hurricane Florence, which had winds of 90 miles per hour when it blew ashore in North Carolina last month. Michael will likely be the fourth.

Bottomline - Petro says Eastern and Central Carolina need to take Hurricane Michael seriously.

Landfall is expected by the afternoon on Wednesday, near Panama City, FL. Storm surge could be over a foot in Panama City and massive damage there is expected. "They are their best first responders".

A hurricane warning was posted along more than 300 miles (483 km) of the coast from the Florida-Alabama border south to the Suwannee River.

AccuWeather predicted the storm's economic impact damage will approach $15 billion.

After a few areas of light showers this evening, more rain and damaging winds are on the way to Middle Georgia as Michael makes landfall and quickly moves inland.

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