Hurricane Michael makes landfall as dangerous Category 4 storm

Hurricane Michael -- which is now an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm -- moved ashore on the Florida Panhandle shortly after 1 pm Wednesday, on a projected path through the southeastern United States.

The storm’s eyewall began hitting between Panama City and Mexico Beach, Florida, bringing with it “life-threatening storm surge, dangerous winds and heavy rainfall,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm’s sustained winds at the time of landfall were 155 mph, said the center, noting the storm actually intensified as it made landfall.

Impact will be felt through the Carolinas into Virginia, including predictions of 4 to 10 inches of rain. Winds from the rain could start late Wednesday in the Carolinas.

Govenor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency across North Carolina Wednesday morning, referring to Hurricane Michael as “a dreadful storm” in a press release.

Category 4 storm winds are in the 130 mph range to 156 mph.

The storm will move northeast at a faster forward speed, where it is expected to spawn flash flooding and possibly tornadoes as it moves north, the weather center says.

A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for multiple counties in northeast South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina, the same area hit last month by Hurricane Florence’s winds and flash flooding. Winds in the 39 to 73 mph are expected in the next 24 hours in the Carolinas, along with “flooding rain.”

“The overly saturated ground and weakened trees will still allow for an elevated wind risk and some power outages will occur. Flash flooding will also be possible though the storm’s rapid motion should limit rainfall amounts,” said a National Weather Service statement.

Michael’s hurricane force winds are extending 45 miles out from the eye of the storm, and tropical force winds are being felt 185 miles away, says the National Hurricane Center.

“Michael is likely to produce potentially catastrophic wind damage where the core of the hurricane moves onshore in the Florida Panhandle, and everyone in the hurricane warning area should prepare for life-threatening hurricane winds,” said a statement issued early Wednesday.

 - www.charlotteobserver.com

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