Hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings are flying for much of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region as a steadily intensifying Hurricane Michael steams northward at 12 mph over the warm waters of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Michael is expected to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 3 hurricane.
Hurricane Florence is spreading heavy rain and strong winds into the Carolinas, with landfall expected near the border between North Carolina and South Carolina on Friday, kicking off an agonizing crawl through the Southeast into early next week, producing catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds.
Landfalling Category 4 hurricanes are rare in the mainland U.S., with just 24 such landfalls since 1851—an average of one every seven years. Category 5 landfalls are rarer still, with just three on record. All but three of these 27 landfalls by Cat 4s and Cat 5s have occurred south of South Carolina’s latitude, so Florence will be in very select company if it manages to make landfall at Category 4 strength in North or South Carolina.