Michael will be the strongest hurricane to hit the continental US in more than a year

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(CNN) -- Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle with frightening fury.

The Category 2 storm is packing winds of more than 110 mph and is expected to grow even more potent before it makes landfall Wednesday, likely near Panama City Beach.

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

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

 

  • Michael is expected to 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 likely be the fourth.
  • Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental US since Irma in September of last year.
  • The "forecast cone" for Michael (the storm's projected path) stretches from Florida all the way north to New Jersey.
  • More than 20 million people are under a hurricane watch or warning across five states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina).
  • Michael is the seventh hurricane of the year in the Atlantic Basin. On average, the Atlantic has about five hurricanes by October 8.
  • The hurricane has undergone a period of "rapid intensification," defined as a 35 mph increase in sustained winds over a 24-hour period. Michael went from 40 mph on Sunday to 75 mph on Mondayand is expected to undergo another rapid intensification in the next 24 hours.
  • Florida has had more hurricanes in October than in any other month.

 

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