Michael will be the strongest hurricane to hit the continental US in more than a year

Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle with frightening fury.

The Category 4 storm is packing winds of 130 mph and may grow even fiercer before it makes landfall Wednesday, likely near Panama City Beach.

Photos: Hurricane Michael to slam US coast

In terms of wind intensity, that would make it stronger than Hurricane Florence, which had winds of 90 mph when it blew ashore in North Carolina last month.

Here are some other facts that show the power of this “monstrous storm.”

 

  • Michael is expected to be the first Category 4 storm on record to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle.
  • It will also be the first major hurricane (Category 3 or above) to strike the Florida Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
  • Only three major hurricanes have made landfall in the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005. Michael will likely be the fourth.
  • Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental US since Irma in September of last year.
  • The “forecast cone” for Michael (the storm’s projected path) stretches from Florida all the way north to New Jersey.
  • About 28 million people are under a hurricane watch or warning, or tropical storm watch or warning, across six states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina).
  • Michael is the seventh hurricane of the year in the Atlantic Basin. On average, the Atlantic has about five hurricanes by October 8.
  • The hurricane has undergone a period of “rapid intensification,” defined as a 35 mph increase in sustained winds over a 24-hour period. Michael went from 40 mph on Sunday to 75 mph on Monday.
  • Florida has had more hurricanes in October than in any other month.

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