Hurricane Michael has arrived, and it's stronger than anyone expected

People line up for gasoline outside Tallahassee Florida on Monday as Hurricane Michael bears down on the northern Gulf coas

A hurricane warning is effect in southwestern Georgia. The center is expected to pass just to the west of the state's capital. A storm with that power hasn't struck the Florida Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005. The storm is expected to drop as much as 12 inches of rain in some areas of the state before continuing its path north into Georgia and moving northward into southeastern New England Thursday night and Friday.

Florida authorities said they expected Michael to hit the state as a category 3. "If you're in a one-story house, and the storm surge is there, I don't know how you're going to survive that".

In the hours before landfall, Michael rapidly intensified, strengthening from a Category 1 to a strong Category 4 in less than 36 hours - consistent with recent research on climate change's impact on storms. Forecasters said tornadoes could spin off the storm and 3 to 6 inches of rain could cause flash floods as it barrels over a corner of the country still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

"The time to evacuate coastal areas has come and gone", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference Wednesday.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday tweeted that those subject to a hurricane warning should "PREPARE NOW", adding, "You are quickly running out of time".

"Michael is predicted to come ashore in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm, with winds in excess of 130 miles per hour Wednesday afternoon", AccuWeather Founder and President Joel N. Myers said.

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.

Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in Florida Wednesday, is being called the third-strongest storm to hit North America. The heavy rainfall will soften the ground near trees and may make them easier to fall. Nadine is expected to fizzle out and dissipate in the open waters after running into wind shear, drier air and slightly cooler ocean temperatures, the hurricane center said.

The outer bands of the massive storm are beginning to reach the Gulf Coast.

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A NOAA buoy located some 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City recorded sustained winds of 76 mph (122 kmh) early Wednesday.

Michael also had hot towers - tall thunderstorms that form in the eyewall of a hurricane - and these storms release heat that all the water vapor condenses into cloud water.

Panama City Beach, the Florida Panhandle tourist community, announced mandatory evacuations for some areas along the coast Tuesday morning.

Another factor: Its pressure, the measurement meteorologists use to gauge a hurricane's strength.

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The intense Category 4 hurricane brought sustained winds of 230kmh as it tore away tree limbs and sent pieces of buildings flying. Only three major hurricanes have hit the Panama City area and none since 1895, according to McNoldy.

The Panhandle is looking at life-threatening storm surge that will be between 9 to 14 feet above ground from Panama City to the Aucilla River, and 4 to 9 feet in most other parts of the region associated with the storm's landfall.

Central pressure is actually a better measure of the damage that hurricane will cause than wind speed, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications in 2017, though wind is the basis for hurricane categories.

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