Michael strengthens to a Category 4 hurricane

Tallahassee, Fla. (AP) – The National Hurricane Center says Michael has become an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

At 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, the eye of Michael was about 180 miles (289 kilometers) south-southwest of Panama City, Florida. It also was about 170 miles (273 kilometers) southwest of Apalachicola, Florida. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (72 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (281 kilometers).

Michael was expected to become one of the Panhandle’s worst hurricanes in memory with a life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters).

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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