Hurricane Michael explosively intensified on Tuesday night into a powerful Category 3 storm, and is now forecast to road ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane in the central Florida Panhandle. Barring a last-minute weakening trend, this would put the storm into the history books as one of the most intense hurricanes ever to strike the Florida Panhandle, with the worst of the storm hitting between Pensacola and Apalachicola.
The big picture: Michael has the potential to cause "catastrophic damage" from strong winds and a potentially huge storm surge that will be pushed into the state's Panhandle and Big Bend region, the National Weather Service says. The storm is moving steadily northward toward the Florida Panhandle, with time having run out for residents to prepare. It is forecast to continue intensifying through the time of landfall sometime Wednesday.