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Michael lashes Florida coast as Cat 4 hurricane

(AP) – Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 kph) with higher gusts.

At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph). Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.

Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall as the hurricane moves onshore.

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