Hurricane Michael Grows to Terrifying Category 4

Hurricane Michael made its way through the Gulf of Mexico Monday

NOAA RAMMB AFP Getty Images Hurricane Michael made its way through the Gulf of Mexico Monday

The home of the 325th Fighter Wing and some 600 military families appeared squarely targeted for the worst of the storm's fury, and leaders declared HURCON 1 status, ordering out all but essential personnel. But hurricanes can also be measured by their barometric pressure: generally speaking, the lower the pressure, the more intense the storm.

As the rain makes it way into the area, so will stronger, tropical storm force winds. He focused on islands off the coast whose bridges may close as the storm approaches.

Hurricane forecasters haven't had much problem figuring out Michael's path in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Michael weakened to a Category 1 storm Wednesday evening as it moved across southwestern Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said.

Michael has exploded overnight to a very risky Category 4 hurricane. Winds are sustained at 125 miles per hour.

Michael will be the strongest hurricane to hit the Panhandle in recorded history.

It was expected to continue intensifying overnight and would be near category 4 status on Wednesday morning.

The center began issuing notices on Michael on Saturday, first as a "disturbance" in the northwestern Caribbean.

United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley also said that anyone seeking local resources connected to Hurricane Michael can dial 2-1-1 or 706-405-4775 around the clock.

As of the 4 p.m. advisory Tuesday, Michael had winds of 120 miles per hour.

The aircraft also reported that the minimum pressure has fallen to 923 millibars, meaning more strengthening could occur before landfall by mid-afternoon Wednesday. It expected the storm to turn due north tonight, then northeastward on Wednesday.

The NWS office in Tallahassee said it had found no record of any previous category four hurricanes that made landfall in the panhandle or the "Big Bend" coastal region.

There will be no shelters open in Wakulla County, the sheriff's office warned on Facebook, because they are rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

There was no change in the watches and warnings lineup from the previous advisory.

"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook.

In Panama City Beach, a building that was still under construction didn't stand a chance against Michael.

"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN.

Tallahassee International Airport ‏is suspending commercial flight activity as 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday but expects to resume activity on Thursday.

Hurricane Michael will also cause almost one million people to be without power, not just on the coast but inland as well in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

This will be the third storm to hit Northwest Florida this year.

A hurricane warning was in place from the Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Suwannee River and a tropical storm warning was in effect for north of Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Duck, N.C., and Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.

Meanwhile, tropical storm warnings extend from Florida's Chassahowitzka River to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Governor Rick Scott, who has activated 2,500 members of the National Guard in response, echoed Knabb's assessment saying that, "Hurricane Michael poses a deadly threat (as the) most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades".

But Kottlowski noted that meteorologists are still analyzing Hurricane Michael, and it's possible that it will be retroactively upgraded to Category 5 status based on wind speeds. Duke said Tuesday night, it expected 100,000 to 200,000 customers to lose power.

Florida's governor orders evacuations to prepare for Hurricane Michael