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You are here News Environment Hurricane Michael gains strength on course for Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael gains strength on course for Florida Panhandle

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Hurricane Michael to hit coastMichael gained new strength over warm tropical waters amid fears it would swiftly intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida’s northeast Gulf Coast, where frantic coastal dwellers are boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from the dangerous storm heading their way.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye of Michael off the west tip of Cuba late Monday found wind speeds were rising even as forecasters warned the storm could reach major hurricane status with winds topping 111 mph (179 kph) by Tuesday night. Anticipated landfall is expected Wednesday on the northeast Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike.

By Tuesday at 5 a.m., Michael remained a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds had risen some to 90 mph (144 kph) as it headed north at 12 mph (19 kph). The storm was centered about 390 miles (630 kilometers) south of Apalachicola and 420 miles (680 kilometers) south of Panama City. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 195 miles (315 kilometers). Michael was lashing western Cuba with heavy rains and strong winds.

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