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Florida Panhandle Bracing For Category 4 Hurricane

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Hurricane Michael, now heading toward landfall in the area of Panama City-Tallahassee, Florida is a Category 4 storm and is expected to be the strongest hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle in 267 years, according to the National Hurricane Center. Landfall is expected for Wednesday afternoon.

A colossal storm surge and more than 100 mph winds have been predicted for the Florida coast inland that may result in power outages for about 1 million residents from Florida to North Carolina.

As of 9 a.m. east coast time on Wednesday, October 10, rain and heavy squalls had been reported in the panhandle.

A storm surge warning is in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to the Anclote River. This means that a life-threatening storm surge is expected in the region and will be at its highest during landfall.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect from the Alabama-Florida border west to the Mississippi-Alabama border from Suwannee River, Florida south to Chassahowitzka Florida and along the Southeast coast from Fernandina Beach, Florida to Surf City, North Carolina. The warning also extends inland to parts of southern Alabama and southwestern Georgia including Mobile, Alabama, and Valdosta, Georgia. This means that tropical-storm force winds are predicted within the area for Thursday afternoon.

A tropical storm watch is posted from Chassahowitzka, Florida to Anna Mari Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay, from the Mississippi-Alabama border west to the mouth of the Pearl River and along the Southeast coast from South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina, including Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. That means tropical-storm winds for this region are possible for Friday.

Florida authorities report that more than 375,000 people throughout the Gulf Cost have been urged or ordered to evacuate.

Evacuations have occurred in 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida. However, residents have not been ordered to leave.

Only a skeleton staff remains at Tyndall Air Force Base, north of Panama City.

Power Outage Potential

Most customers are expected to lose power from the coast inland from where landfall occurs on the Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia. These power outages may last for more than a week in some areas.

The power outages may spread into parts of south and east Georgia, southeastern Alabama, the low country of South Carolina and southeast North Carolina as Michael moves up the coast.

The winds of Michael could cause at least scattered power outages into parts of northern Georgia, Upstate South Carolina, central and northeast North Carolina and possibly southeast Virginia. This may occur due to soil saturation caused by heavy rains during Hurricane Florence.

Cities expected to experience power outages include Tallahassee, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Columbia, Greenville-Spartanburg, Charleston, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham.

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