Hurricane Michael forecast: What to expect from the unprecedented Category 4 storm

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Hurricane Michael forecast: What to expect from the unprecedented Category 4 storm

Hurricane Michael, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm, churned toward the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday morning as the state and its neighbors to the north braced for the impact.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott said it is the worst storm the Panhandle has seen in a century. No hurricane of Category 4 strength has ever hit that area before.

PHOTO: Hurricane Michael is inching closer to the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday morning with outer bands already on shore.ABC News
Hurricane Michael is inching closer to the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday morning with outer bands already on shore.

Here is what to expect and when

Wednesday:

— As of 11 a.m., Michael was 60 miles south to southwest of Panama City, Florida.

— With powerful winds of 145 mph, the storm was moving north at 14 mph.

— Water levels are quickly rising and winds are increasing along the Florida Panhandle.

Life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet high, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall are all imminent.

— Storm surge of 4.5 feet was already reported in Apalachicola, Florida, Wednesday — the fourth highest stage on record there.

— Landfall is expected around 1 p.m. Wednesday near Panama City or Mexico Beach, with 145 mph winds. (A Category 5 hurricane is over 156 mph, which Michael is not likely to reach.)

PHOTO: Hurricane Michael is a fast-moving storm, but it will keep hurricane-force winds all the way into Georgia overnight into Thursday morning. ABC News
Hurricane Michael is a fast-moving storm, but it will keep hurricane-force winds all the way into Georgia overnight into Thursday morning.

Thursday and after:

— Scott has warned of major flooding. Rainfall may reach 12 inches in Florida.

— Michael is forecast to move quickly through Georgia and into the Carolinas on Thursday. The Carolinas could see around 6 inches of rain.

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