Hurricane Michael Intensifies, Could Reach Category 4 Strength At Landfall

NOAA GOES-East/Handout via REUTERS

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Hurricane Michael could reach Category 4 strength when it hits the U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday, bringing with it heavy winds and life-threatening storm surge, according to forecasts.

Michael is already forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall, but the storm could reach as high as Category 4 strength. Hurricane strength is based on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale that measures wind speeds.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted that there is “nothing stopping further intensification” of the storm, and that he was “fearing Category 4 as maximum now” when it smashes into the Florida panhandle.

Michael is currently a Category 2 storm, whipping up maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour. If it strengthens to a Category 4 storm wind speeds could reach 130 miles per hour or higher.

The National Hurricane Center reported on Tuesday morning that Michael’s “maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110 mph with higher gusts.”

“Additional strengthening is expected, and Michael is forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall in Florida,” NHC warned. “Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves through the southeastern United States.”

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott has warned residents to get out of the storm’s way and to prepare. Scott warned the “monstrous” storm could bring up to 8 inches of rainfall and up to 12 feet of storm surge in some areas.

“You cannot hide from storm surge,” Scott said on Tuesday. “Every family must be prepared now.”

“We can rebuild your house, but we cannot rebuild your life,” Scott warned. (RELATED: Rick Scott Issues Dire Warning Ahead Of Hurricane Michael)

Likewise, President Donald Trump said Tuesday the federal government was “prepared” to respond to Hurricane Michael, which will be the most powerful storm to hit the panhandle in decades.

Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said three major hurricanes have struck the panhandle region since 1950 — Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

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