Hurricane Michael makes landfall, pounds Panhandle with 155 mph winds

Hurricane Michael makes landfall near Mexico Beach. (WPEC)

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach in Florida's Panhandle, with 155 mph winds.

As of 3 p.m., the storm is still packing heavy firepower with 150 mph winds. It is 30 miles east of Panama City and 60 miles west of Tallahassee, moving at 15 mph.

Watch Live: Hurricane Michael makes landfall.

"Hurricane Michael is the worst storm the Florida Panhandle has seen in 100 years," Gov. Scott said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Forecasters believed Michael would intensify before its eye moved across the Florida Panhandle Wednesday afternoon. And it did, going from 150 mph winds to 155 mph winds, making it the strongest ever to hit that part of Florida.

Hurricane Michael is also the strongest hurricane, in terms of pressure and wind speed, to hit the continental United States in the month of October. Michael's pressure at landfall of 918 mb is also lower than Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, which means it was stronger than those two devastating storms. Michael is also the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States in the month of October since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

Life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds, and heavy rainfall are imminent, the NHC said earlier.

The Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area, along with southwest and central Georgia could see between 4 to 8 inches of rain, with some isolated areas seeing up to a foot of rain.

Tornadoes are also possible in parts of the Florida Panhandle through the afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee issued an extreme wind warning as gusts in excess of 130 mph were expected.

Some wind gusts reported so far include a 119 mph reading at Tyndall Air Force Base, a 116 mph reading at Florida State University Panama City campus, and a 94 mph reading at the Panama City Treatment Plant.

Swells from Hurricane Michael will also cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along the eastern, northern, and western Gulf of Mexico.

Related link: Hurricane Michael Photo Gallery

FEMA is also alerting residents in Georgia to prepare as the storm could knock out power there for weeks.

Also in the tropics, Leslie is now a hurricane with 75 mph winds. Nadine remains a tropical storm with 65 mph winds.

(Click here for live coverage on your mobile device)


The Tropical Storm Warning has been discontinued west of the

Alabama/Florida border.

The Tropical Storm Watch along the west coast of Florida has been

discontinued south of Chassahowitzka.


A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for...

* Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida to Anclote River Florida

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for...

* Anclote River Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including

Tampa Bay

* Ocracoke Inlet North Carolina to Duck North Carolina

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...

* Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River Florida

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...

* Suwanee River Florida to Chassahowitzka Florida

* North of Fernandina Beach Florida to Duck North Carolina

* Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening

inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline. For

a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather

Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected

somewhere within the warning area.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-

threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the


Interests elsewhere across the southeastern United States should

monitor the progress of Michael.

For storm information specific to your area, including possible

inland watches and warnings, please monitor products issued by your

local National Weather Service forecast office.



Satellite, aircraft, and radar data indicate that the eye of

Michael is making landfall just northwest of Mexico Beach, Florida.

At 100 PM CDT (1800 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Michael was located

near latitude 30.0 North, longitude 85.5 West. Michael is moving

toward the north-northeast near 14 mph (22 km/h). A turn toward the

northeast is expected this afternoon or tonight. A motion toward

the northeast at a faster forward speed is forecast on Thursday

through Friday night. On the forecast track, the core of Michael

will move inland across the Florida Panhandle this afternoon, and

across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia tonight.

Michael will move northeastward across the southeastern United

States through Thursday night, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic

coast away from the United States on Friday.

Recent data from NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter

aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to

near 155 mph (250 km/h) with higher gusts. Michael is an extremely

dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind

Scale. Michael should weaken as it crosses the southeastern United

States. Michael is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone on

Friday, and strengthening is forecast as the system moves over the

western Atlantic.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from

the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175

miles (280 km). A wind gust of 130 mph (210 mph) was recently

reported at a University of Florida/Weatherflow observing site near

Tyndall Air Force Base before the instrument failed. A wind gust to

129 mph (207 km/h) was reported at the Panama City Airport.

The latest minimum central pressure based on data from an Air Force

Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is 919 mb (27.41 inches).

A minimum pressure of 920 mb was recently reported by a University

of Florida/Weatherflow observing site near Tyndall Air Force Base.



STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the

tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by

rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water has the

potential to reach the following heights above ground if peak surge

occurs at the time of high tide...

Tyndall Air Force Base FL to Aucilla River FL...9-14 ft

Okaloosa/Walton County Line FL to Tyndall Air Force Base FL...6-9 ft

Aucilla River FL to Cedar Key FL...6-9 ft

Cedar Key FL to Chassahowitzka FL...4-6 ft

Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island FL including Tampa Bay...2-4 ft

Sound side of the North Carolina Outer Banks from Ocracoke Inlet to

Duck...2-4 ft

Water levels continue to rise quickly along the coast of the Florida

Panhandle. A National Ocean Service water level station at

Apalachicola recently reported over 6.5 feet of inundation above

ground level.

WIND: Tropical storm and hurricane conditions will continue

to spread inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle,

southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia this afternoon and


With the landfall of Michael's eye occurring, everyone in the

landfall area is reminded not to venture out into the relative calm

of the eye, as hazardous winds will increase very quickly as the eye


Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread northward within

the warning area along the southeast U.S. coast beginning tonight

through Friday.

RAINFALL: Michael is expected to produce the following rainfall

amounts through Friday...

Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, southeast Alabama, and portions of

southwest and central Georgia...4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum

amounts of 12 inches. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening

flash floods.

The remainder of Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia...3

to 6 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches. This

rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods.

Florida Peninsula, eastern Mid Atlantic, southern New England

coast...1-3 inches.

SURF: Swells generated by Michael will affect the coasts of the

eastern, northern, and western Gulf of Mexico during the next day

or so. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf

and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local

weather office.

TORNADOES: Tornadoes are possible across parts of the Florida

Panhandle and the northern Florida Peninsula through this afternoon.

This risk will spread northward into parts of Georgia and southern

South Carolina this afternoon and tonight.

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