UPDATE: It’s A ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ As A Near Category 5 Hurricane Michael Pummels Florida

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

UPDATE: Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm, but with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, just shy of Category 5 strength. Michael if officially the strongest hurricane on record to make U.S. landfall in October.

Hurricane Michael is on the brink of Category 5 strength — a “worst-case scenario” for Florida’s panhandle, according to forecasters.

Packing 150-mph winds, Michael is expected to intensify right up until landfall, which is a “worst-case scenario,” meteorologist Ryan Maue warned. Michael’s central pressure is expected to reach below 920 millibars, which is on par with a Category 5 storm.

Officials measure hurricane strength using the Saffir-Simpson scale. A Category 5 storm is the most intense rating on the scale, packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 157 mph or more. Michael’s maximum sustained wind speed is currently 150 mph.

The National Weather Service (NWS) echoed Maue’s sentiment. The agency warned in all capital letters: “THIS IS A WORST CASE SCENARIO.”

When Michael strikes the panhandle, it will be the strongest storm on record to make landfall in the region, according to NWS. Nine major hurricanes have made landfall on the Florida Panhandle since 1851, though none have been stronger than a Category 3 storm. (RELATED: Hurricane Michael Will Bring Something Florida Has Never Seen)

Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach tweeted that just “4 hurricanes on record have hit the continental US with a lower pressure” than Michael.

Officials ordered evacuations and warned those who did not get out of the storm’s way to shelter in place. Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott warned residents of the life-threatening damage the storm will do to the coast.

“Hurricane Michael is going to hit very near to where we are in Franklin County as a dangerous and life-threatening major hurricane, and if you don’t follow the warnings from these officials, the storm could kill you,” Scott told residents on Tuesday.

Storm surge is expected to reach up to 14 feet around Panama City, and heavy rains and incredibly strong winds will accompany the life-threatening surge.

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that “[w]e are with you Florida!” Trump linked to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website.

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