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Wednesday September 23rd, 2020 11:13PM

The Latest: Georgia braces for Hurricane Michael

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Michael (all times local):

8:25 a.m.

Michael is now a Category 4 hurricane and so powerful that it is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves over central Georgia early Thursday. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency for 92 of the state's 159 counties.

A hurricane warning is effect in southwestern Georgia. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the entire Georgia coast, as well as much of the inland areas.

Between 4 inches (10 centimeters) and 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain are expected in southwest and central Georgia. From 3 inches (8 centimeters) to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain is expected in other parts of the state.

The National Weather Service said winds are expected to range from 25 mph (40 kph) to 45 mph (72 kph) in central Georgia, with gusts as high as 70 mph (112 kph).

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8 a.m.

Hurricane Michael is strengthening as it races over the Gulf of Mexico approaching a landfall along Florida's Panhandle.

Forecasters say deadly storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall are imminent.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph) and is moving at 13 mph (20 kph).

At 8 a.m., Michael was centered about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Panama City, with tropical storm force winds already lashing the coast.

The hurricane center says Michael will be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle.

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7:45 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning people in the path of massive Hurricane Michael that it's too late to evacuate.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Scott said "If you chose to state in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY."

Hurricane Michael grew into a Category 4 storm overnight and officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say a storm that strong has never hit the Florida Panhandle.

Meanwhile the Bay County Sheriff's Office warned residents that a "shelter-in-place" order has been issued, and urged everyone to stay off the roads. Sheriff's officials say deputies will continue to respond to calls for now, but that will change as the storm approaches the coastline.

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7:15 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hurricane Michael would be the first Category 4 storm to hit Florida's Panhandle.

In a Facebook post, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said "we are in new territory with now Hurricane Michael and its 130 mph sustained winds."

Feltgen says Bay County is the likely "ground zero" for Hurricane Michael on Wednesday afternoon.

The outer bands of the massive storm are beginning to reach the Gulf Coast. At 7 a.m. the center of the storm was about 105 miles (165 kilometers) south-southwest of Panama City.

A NOAA buoy located some 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City recorded sustained winds of 76 mph (122 kmh) early Wednesday. Forecasters also said a wind gust of 54 mph (87 kph) was reported at Apalachicola Regional Airport.

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5:30 a.m.

Some of the worst storm surge from Category 4 Hurricane Michael is expected to hit Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, which has ordered all non-essential personnel to evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center's latest forecast shows as much as 13 feet of water on top of the usual waves and tides could inundate the base, which is home to more than 600 families and on an island about 12 miles east of Panama City.

All base residents were ordered to leave when Tyndall moved to "HURCON 1" status as the storm closes in.

The base provided transportation but limited families to one large piece of luggage per family and one carry-on piece per person.

Tyndall is home to the 325th Fighter Wing.

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5 a.m.

Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 kph) with higher gusts.

At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph). Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.

Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall as the hurricane moves onshore.

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2:10 a.m.

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.

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12:30 a.m.

Hurricane Michael is roaring down on the Florida Panhandle, gaining strength so quickly that forecasters expect it to become a Category 4 monster once it slams into the white-sand beaches, fishing villages and coastal communities.

The brute storm that sprang from a weekend tropical depression gained in fury and size just hours ahead of Wednesday's projected midday landfall, packed 125 mph (200 kph) winds as a dangerous Category 3 storm. Forecasters say it's expected to keep strengthening in the final hours before it crashes ashore as potentially one of the worst hurricanes in the region's history.

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.

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For more of the latest on Hurricane Michael, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online - Georgia News
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