Hurricane strengthens, bears down on coast

National News

October 10, 2018 - 12:50 PM

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Gaining frightening fury overnight, Hurricane Michael closed in today on the Florida Panhandle with potentially catastrophic winds of 145 mph, the most powerful storm on record ever to menace the stretch of fishing villages, military bases and spring-break beaches.

With more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast warned to clear out, the hurricane’s leading edge began lashing the shoreline with tropical storm-force winds, rain and rising seas before daybreak, hours before Michael’s center was expected to blow ashore.

The unexpected brute quickly sprang from a weekend tropical depression, reaching Category 4 early Wednesday as it drew energy from the Gulf’s 84-degree waters. That was up from a Category 2 on Tuesday.

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