Category 4 Hurricane Michael being felt on Florida coast

Hurricane Michael to hit Florida, but will there be any Maine impact?

Red Cross deploying volunteers, as Hurricane Michael gets set to slam into Florida

Hurricane Michael closed in on Florida┬┤s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as an "extremely dangerous" category four storm packing powerful winds and a huge sea surge, USA forecasters said.

When it made landfall about midday in the Florida Panhandle, the Michael was packing 155 miles per hour winds, 2 miles per hour shy of a Category 5 storm.

Scott, a Republican running for the US Senate in November's congressional elections, declared a state of emergency in 35 Florida counties.

Some 120,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders in Bay County in the panhandle, a low-lying area of beachfront resorts and retirement communities.

The National Weather Service has called the storm "extremely dangerous" and said those subject to a hurricane warning should "PREPARE NOW", adding, "You are quickly running out of time".

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In a 10 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Michael was holding form as a Category 4 storm by landfall with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

- Panama City Beach is expected to get a direct hit by Hurricane Michael.

4 P.M. What the Hurricane Center has been predicting has come to pass - Hurricane Michael has strengthened into a major hurricane.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the most powerful hurricane to blow ashore on the USA mainland since Camille in 1969.

Hurricane Michael is on track to be the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in 50 years, and the third strongest ever. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding. The NHC said some areas of the Florida coast could expect storm surge of nine to 13 feet, and as much as a foot of rain.

Tropical storm expected to produce squally, wet weather across S. Florida
The storm will be moving at a steady clip, so it is unlikely to produce the type of extreme rainfall that Hurricane Florence did. Due to the King Tides - exceptionally high tides - along both coasts, coastal flooding also could be a concern.

Following morning showers, heavy rain will arrive after 11 a.m. Thursday and continue through the evening.

On the forecast track, the eye of Michael is expected to move ashore over the Florida Panhandle later today near Panama City, move northeastward across the southeastern US tonight and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the USA on Friday.

"It's our first storm (forecast) to be on top of us", Mollie Williams, a 17-year resident, said warily. Michael was forecast to move inland over the Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon, and across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia on Wednesday night.

Kirsten Fiscus, a journalist, was less than 25 miles (40 kilometres) away in Panama City when Michael's eye made landfall. "We are expecting a 12-foot storm surge and we were anxious it would inundate the sewer system and when we went to turn it back on, it would have problems", Mayor Van Johnson said.

The Weather Channel warns of "catastrophic storm surge" and incredibly high speed winds associated with the storm. Forecasters say it's expected to keep strengthening in the final hours before it crashes ashore as potentially one of the worst hurricanes in the region's history. Isolated areas could get 12 inches and life-threatening flash floods.

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