Michael strengthens to Category 4 hurricane

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Hurricane Michael strengthened overnight into a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for portions of the Lowcountry including Beaufort, Charleston, Coastal Colleton, Dorchester, Inland Berkeley, Inland Colleton, and Tidal Berkeley. A Tropical Storm Warning means tropical storm-force winds are expected somewhere within this area within the next 36 hours

At this point, South Carolina can expect to begin experiencing the effects of the storm starting Wednesday evening.

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At 2 a.m., the center of Hurricane Michael was located near latitude 27.7 North, longitude 86.6 West.

Michael is moving toward the north near 12 mph.

A northward motion is expected Wednesday morning, followed by a northeastward motion later Wednesday and Thursday.

On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, then the center of Michael’s eye is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area later Wednesday. It will then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

Data from Air Force Reserve and NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 130 mph with higher gusts.

Michael is now a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some additional strengthening is possible before Michael makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Big Bend area.

Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves across the southeastern United States. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. The minimum central pressure estimated from Air Force Hurricane Hunter data is 945 mb (27.91 inches).

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