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Hurricane Michael now Category 4, expected to do 'catastrophic' damage to Florida Gulf Coast

Hurricane Michael is a Category 4 storm approaching the Florida Gulf Coast. It could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle in recorded history. (Image source: Video screenshot)

Hurricane Michael has gained strength during its approach toward Florida's Gulf Shore and is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon. The storm is now a Category 4, which The Weather Channel warns will cause a "catastrophic storm surge."

What are the details?

If Hurricane Michael makes landfall as a Category 4 storm, it would be the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach.

At around 9 a.m. ET, Klotzbach reported that Michael had max sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, which is faster than any to reach the area since measurements began in 1851.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a storm surge warning for portions of the coasts of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature Coast. NHC said those areas will likely experience a "life-threatening" storm surge, where 9 to 13 feet of inundation is possible in the worst areas between Tyndall Air Force Base and Keaton Beach.

Hurricane Michael is also expected to produce potentially catastrophic wind damage, along with flash flooding and could spur tornadoes inland. The path of the storm is projected to hit several southeastern states, including Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas — many parts of which are still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Florence last month.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned early Wednesday morning that anyone who remained in evacuation areas should take cover, saying the time for evacuation had "come and gone."

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