FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT

Weather Service calls impact potential with Michael, “catastrophic”

Hurricane Michael gained intensity and speed early Wednesday morning. Top, sustained winds have exceeded 140 mph with even higher gusts. That makes this storm a category four on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It is not out of the realm of possibility that it gains category five status before interacting with land.

The National Hurricane Center Forecast Office in Tallahassee, Florida used ominous words this morning calling the potential for damage to be “catastrophic.”

In addition to the catastrophic wording, a word that a storm of this magnitude has never struck this part of Florida in modern times. Panama City, Florida, which is expected to be ground-zero for this hurricane, is an area that has vastly grown in population. Bay County had a population of about 42,000 in 1950 with estimates of around a quarter million people today.

The storm will make a landfall sometime this afternoon, weakening as it moves over land.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen