Hurricane Michael is the strongest storm the Florida Panhandle has seen in a century.
The Category 4 storm made landfall around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday with 155-mph winds.
Michael slammed into the area just north of Mexico Beach, intensifying slightly just before the eye passed over land. It is the most powerful storm to hit the Panhandle and Big Bend areas since we started naming storms in 1953.
"This is devastating," Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday morning.
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Colorado State University Meteorologist Philip Klotzbach tweeted that the Panhandle has never seen a Category 4 or 5 hit since 1851 when hurricane records began being kept.
The Pensacola Hurricane of 1882 hit with 125-mph winds.
In 1972, Hurricane Agnes hit the middle of the Panhandle as a Category 1 storm. Though it was only a Category 1, according to the National Weather Service, the total damage from Agnes was more than $3 billion when adjusted to today’s dollars.
When Agnes hit, 122 people died.
Hurricane Eloise hit the Panhandle as a Category 3 storm in 1975.
Hurricane Opal hit Pensacola Beach as a Category 3 in 1995, and Ivan hit on the Northwest Florida-Alabama coast as a Category 3 in 2004.
Hurricane Dennis hit as a Category 3 in 2005.
And, most recently, Hurricane Hermine hit the Big Bend area of northwest Florida as a Category 1 in 2016.
Hurricane Michael is also the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in October since Hurricane Hazel in 1954. It's also the second October Category 4 hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane King in 1950.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of Bay, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jackson, Jefferson, Okaloosa, Taylor and Wakulla counties.
Voluntary and phased evacuations were ordered for Calhoun, Escambia, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Pasco and Santa Rosa counties.
Gov. Scott said 1,000 search and rescue team members are ready to start their work when the storm passes. Getting power back on will be a top priority, Scott said, though no communication outages or fuel outages had been reported as of Wednesday morning.
Tampa Bay impact: Hurricane Michael brings some flooding, road closures
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