Hurricane Michael

NOAA/National Weather Service

Hurricane Michael – considered the strongest storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851 -- roared ashore at midday Wednesday near Mexico Beach.

Michael made landfall with 155 mph sustained winds -- just one mile an hour shy of a Category-5 -- and reported gusts topping 175. It also brings in a life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall throughout the region.

Tropical storm force winds from the system are sweeping across the Pensacola area, churning up 15-foot waves in the Gulf.

Joe Alonzo

Video captured in Destin by resident Joe Alonzo

Waves crashing on Santa Rosa Sound 

Joe Alonzo

Video captured in Destin by resident Joe Alonzo

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Michael is approaching the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend as a Category-3 monster, with landfall expected (Wednesday). WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports last-minute preparations were being made Tuesday, including mandatory evacuations as far west as Pensacola.

The Escambia County Emergency Operations Center spent Tuesday at Level-2 – or partial activation – tracking Michael’s trek through the Gulf of Mexico.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Hurricane Michael is approaching the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend as a Category-3 storm, with top winds of 110 miles an hour and landfall expected on Wednesday. Preparations are underway — including mandatory evacuations — as far west as Pensacola.

Residents in Escambia County’s Zone-A — Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, and low-lying areas — were ordered out at noon Tuesday.

“If you’re under an evacuation order, listen to it – don’t wait,” said Gov. Rick Scott, speaking Monday at the Escambia Operations Center.

National Hurricane Center

As Hurricane Michael churns through the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Rick Scott visited the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center on Monday, for a briefing on the storm. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports Pensacola is under a hurricane warning by the National Hurricane Center.

The Governor was in Pensacola late Monday afternoon, after briefings in Southport and New Port Richey on the 13th named storm of the 2018 season. His repeated message: do whatever it takes to stay safe.

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Michael is expected to strengthen into a Category-2 or 3 storm by the time it hits the Florida Gulf Coast by midweek. A hurricane watch is in effect for the entire Panhandle region.

As of midday Monday, Michael was a Category-1 storm, packing sustained winds of 75 mph about 20 miles southwest of the western tip of Cuba. Movement was to the North at seven mph.  Michael is expected to strengthen further -- with winds topping 111 mph by Tuesday night -- before hitting Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend.