Hurricane Michael has approached Florida’s panhandle and the center of the storm will be on land within the next hour or so. Pensacola, Florida, is experiencing heavy rains and steady winds from the Category 4 storm. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for all of Escambia County.
The center of the storm is approximately 35 miles southwest of Mexico Beach and about 40 miles south of Panama City, Florida.
As you can see in the photo above, Pensacola sits on an outer ring of the hurricane, on its west side. Winds of 25-35 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour are expected throughout the day. There is also the potential for higher gusts, upwards of 55 miles per hour.
The storm surge could be anywhere from 1 to 3 feet. According to the latest Public Alert update, there is little concern over flooding and tornadoes at this time.
Heavy rain and high winds will be in the area for the next few hours. By 5 p.m., Hurricane Michael will be out of the area. Partly cloudy skies will take over and the rain will have subsided by that time.
“Michael is a historic storm. A Category 4 hurricane has never struck that part of Florida. The coastline will be changed for decades,” AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss said.
Earlier this morning, there were 15+ foot waves crashing along the beach in Pensacola. You can see these waves in the photo below.
Evacuations were ordered in Escambia County for Zone A starting at noon on Tuesday.
“We expect conditions across the panhandle to deteriorate rapidly,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said during a press conference on Wednesday morning. “We have 54 shelters open across the panhandle and Big Bend,” he added.
A Category 4 hurricane has never made landfall in the Florida panhandle.