Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4 storm, is expected to make landfall near Panama City, Florida, this afternoon, bringing disastrous winds and torrential rains to the Gulf Coast. By Thursday, the storm is likely to reach the Mid-Atlantic region, bringing a day or so of heavy rain.
Here is the latest official statement from the National Hurricane Center:
At 700 AM CDT (1200 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Michael was located near latitude 29.0 North, longitude 86.3 West. Michael is moving toward the north near 13 mph (20 km/h). A turn toward the north- northeast is expected later this morning, with a turn toward the northeast expected this afternoon or tonight. A motion toward the northeast at a faster forward speed is forecast on Thursday and Friday. On the forecast track, the eye of Michael is expected to move ashore over the Florida Panhandle later today, move northeastward across the southeastern United States tonight and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday. Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 145 mph (230 km/h) with higher gusts. Michael is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some additional strengthening is possible before landfall. After landfall, Michael should weaken as it crosses the southeastern United States. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). A wind gust to 56 mph (91 km/h) was recently reported at Apalachicola Regional Airport.