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Michael is the strongest hurricane to hit the continental US in 14 years

Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle with frightening fury.

The Category 4 storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it nears the coastline near Panama City Beach.

In terms of wind intensity, that would make it much stronger than Hurricane Florence, which had winds of 90 mph when it blew ashore in North Carolina last month.

Hurricane Michael: Live updates

Here are some other facts that show the power of this “monstrous storm.”

  • Michael is expected to be the first Category 4 storm on record to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle.
  • It will also be the first major hurricane (Category 3 or above) to strike the Florida Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
  • Only three major hurricanes have made landfall in the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005. Michael will be the fourth.
  • Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental US since Hurricane Charley hit Florida in 2004.
  • The “forecast cone” for Michael (the storm’s projected path) stretches from Florida all the way north to Maryland.
  • About 30 million people are under a hurricane watch or warning, or tropical storm watch or warning, across six states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina).
  • Michael is the seventh hurricane of the year in the Atlantic Basin. On average, the Atlantic has about five hurricanes by October 8.
  • Its tropical-storm-force wind speeds stretch for more than 320 miles — equal to the distance between New York City and Pittsburgh.
  • Florida has had more hurricanes in October than in any other month.