WASHINGTON (SBG) - Hurricane Michael's outer bands have started to impact the Florida Panhandle.
The storm evolved into a Category 4 hurricane in the early morning hours Wednesday.
Huge waves pounded the shoreline at Panama City Beach. The cities' fire department has told residents they will only respond to life threatening emergencies within the city limits.
East of Panama City Beach the city of Apalachicola has already seen damage from the strong winds. Tree limbs and debris lay on the roadways. The storm surge has caused streets to flood, while powerful wind gusts lashed at buildings.
At 5 a.m., an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter crew reported top sustained winds up to near 140 mph (225 kph) with higher gusts. Michael's eye was 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.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the impact of Hurricane Michael will be "horrible," the worst storm to hit the Panhandle in a century.
Scott said Wednesday he's "scared to death" that people in places such as St. George Island along the state's coast had ignored evacuation orders.