(Reuters) - Michael has intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and is expected to strengthen further before making landfall in the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Big Bend area, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday.
Michael, which is located about 170 miles (275 kilometers) southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kph), is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area later on Wednesday.
Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves across the southeastern United States, the Miami-based weather forecaster said.
Life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds, and heavy rainfall are expected along the northeastern Gulf Coast, it added.
Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala and Harshith Aranya in Bengaluru; Editing by Louise Heavens