Published 8:47 PM EDT Oct 9, 2018
Hurricane Michael could rewrite the record books.
The storm, now predicted to hit the Panhandle of Florida on Wednesday as a major hurricane, could rival the worst storms on record to hit that part of the state.
"Michael is currently forecast by the National Hurricane Center to have maximum sustained winds of 125 mph near its time of landfall," said Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach.
"If that were to verify as its landfall intensity, Michael would tie with Eloise (in 1975) and the Pensacola Hurricane of 1882 for strongest winds for a Florida Panhandle landfall on record," he added.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, Michael had winds of 120 mph, making it a Category 3 "major" hurricane.
Hurricane Eloise hit near Panama City, Florida, on September 23, 1975, and killed 21 people in the U.S. The 1882 hurricane hit near Navarre on September 10 of that year.
Another noteworthy mark: If Michael hits as a Category 3 hurricane, it would be only the 10th major hurricane to hit the Panhandle since records began in 1851, Klotzbach said. And since 1950, only three major hurricanes have made landfall in the Florida Panhandle: Eloise (1975), Opal (1995) and Dennis (2005).
A "major" hurricane is classified as a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Thus, any hurricane with winds of 111 or higher is considered a major hurricane.
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And as for the time of year, Michael would be only the 11th major hurricane to hit Florida in October on record. The most recent was Wilma in 2005.
Florida tends to be ground zero for October hurricanes. Historically, about 60 percent of all continental U.S. landfalling hurricanes have hit Florida, according to Klotzbach.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned Tuesday that "Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades. It will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous. You cannot hide from this storm. You can rebuild your home, you cannot rebuild your life."