Hurricane Michael: Could it Be Strongest Storm in 170 Years?

Jason Lock

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Updated 11d ago

As we speak, surfers around Pensacola and the Florida Panhandle are “scrambling to find some big wave guns”, as the full force of Hurricane Michael, which could be the strongest hurricane to ever come ashore along the Florida Panhandle if it makes landfall, rips across the west coast of Florida and Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, Michael's classified as a dangerous Category 4 Hurricane, positioned around 130-miles southwest of Apalachicola. It's likely to strengthen before it hits land, with maximum winds around 140 mph.

The impact of Hurricane Michael. To say this is a rarity is an understatement. Here's how Pensacola's looking today. Keep an eye on the forecast, HERE.

The impact of Hurricane Michael. To say this is a rarity is an understatement. Here's how Pensacola's looking today. Keep an eye on the forecast, HERE.

Michael's trajectory will see it move inland, potentially causing devastation in its wake and it could be the strongest hurricane ever since records dating back to 1851.

And while residents make plans to keep safe, it's worth noting that a solid chunk of swell has already struck this am local time. “Top to bottom waves,” says lensman Alex Dantin. “People are scrambling to find big wave guns.”

MSW forecaster Tony Butt says: “Large swells are already hitting northwest Florida, with wave heights hitting 15-ft around Pensacola area. The currently hectic conditions will improve later today and tomorrow, but wave heights will drop fast.

Michael's projected path, taking it on a somewhat unusual path.

Michael's projected path, taking it on a somewhat unusual path.

© 2018 - NOAA.

“Along the Texas coast, particularly to the south around the U.S. – Mexico border, expect a short-lived pulse of clean swell, with wave heights already hitting six feet and good wind conditions. The swell will struggle to reach areas further north, with wave heights around the Galveston area around three feet or so.”

The MSW forecast team added: "Track guidance is in good agreement that Michael will make landfall around the Cape San Blas region. This storm will spread some surf into the West Florida region, but largest wave heights will be focused toward the Florida Panhandle.

"Wave height forecasts show seas around 36-40’, but it is quite possible that resultant seas will come in a bit higher than this. Surf will spread in Wednesday to the Panhandle going easily 2x overhead and even bigger than that for top spots."

We'll bring you updates as they come in and keep an eye on the forecasts by going HERE.