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Tracking Hurricane Michael

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A historic Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday near Mexico Beach, nearly a Category 5 storm that smashed records as the strongest ever to roar onto the state's exposed Panhandle. High winds and heavy rains lashed the coast. More than 170,000 homes and businesses already were without power, and the number was rising rapidly. It could reach into the millions from the "potentially catastrophic" Cat 4 storm, which was packing sustained winds of 155 mph – just 2 mph short of Cat 5 status. The storm was moving north-northeast at 14 mph. The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said a hurricane "of this strength has NEVER made landfall in this region and thus this is an event that will have unprecedented impacts." "It's historic, it's extremely life threatening," said Kenneth Graham, director of the hurricane center. In Panama City Beach, Perry and Mollie Williams described their single-story home a block from the beach as “a fortress" and said they would ride out Michael with their three cats and a Rottweiler. “It’s our first storm (forecast) to be on top of us," Mollie Williams, a 17-year resident, said warily. "We’ve had a number of them come into the Gulf, and either come to the left or the right of us. But never on top of us." Brock Long, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had ominous words for those who stayed. "Those who stick around to witness storm surge don’t typically live to talk about it," Long said.

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