Carol Cathey spray paints the words 'Calm down Michael' on the plywood over her daughter's business in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Michael on October 9, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
An extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane is barreling toward the Florida Panhandle.
The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Michael has maximum sustained winds of 145 miles an hour this morning, with higher gusts. "The last time we gave a forecast like this for winds like this from a hurricane was Hurricane Charley, that was over 13 years ago," said NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins. "This is stronger winds than what we dealt with last year with Harvey and with Irma."
Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall along the northeastern Gulf coast.
Karins added this storm has the potential be catastrophic. "We are going to see areas of the Florida panhandle uninhabitable for days - weeks, possibly. And Panama City and Panama City Beach are right in the crosshairs. That's 50,000 residents that call that home. They're all evacuated, they're all out of there - but they're not sure what they're going to have to come back home to."
The eye of Michael is expected to hit the Florida Panhandle later today. Governor Rick Scott is telling Floridians in the projected path of the storm that time's up, tweeting this morning:
The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone. First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm. If you chose to stay in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) October 10, 2018
Four airports in the Florida Panhandle are closed today as powerful Hurricane Michael approaches.
Commercial flight activity is suspended at Tallahassee International Airport, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, Pensacola International Airport and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.
More than 150 departing and arriving flights have been canceled and passengers are advised to contact their airline directly for flight information.
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