People along the beach by the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Michael approaches on October 9, 2018 in Panama City Beach, Florida. (Xinhua/AFP)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Hurricane Michael was upgraded early Wednesday to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm and will make landfall on Florida's Panhandle with destructive gusts and rains this afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
With maximum sustained winds of nearly 140 mph (225 kph) at 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) Wednesday, Michael was now forecast as a monster to bring a "potentially catastrophic" storm surge, winds and flooding rains that could make it one of the worst storms the southeastern U.S. state has ever seen.
"You cannot hide from this storm," Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Tuesday in a plea for evacuation.
Michael is expected to make landfall near Panama City, a resort spot on Florida's Panhandle coastline along the Gulf of Mexico with a population of nearly 40,000.
Since 1950, the Florida Panhandle has been hit by three major hurricanes, namely Eloise (1975), Opal (1995) and Dennis (2005), according to a USA Today report on Tuesday.