ATLANTA - Michael made history Wednesday with its landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane.
The storm officially made landfall near Mexico Beach around 1:38 p.m. ET with 155 mph winds, just 2 mph shy of a Category 5 hurricane.
It has since weakened to a tropical storm as it moves through Georgia.
A Category 4 hurricane had never made landfall on the Florida Panhandle until Michael, according to Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz.
Nitz researched data going back to 1851 and found that only six major hurricanes have ever hit the Florida Panhandle, the last being Hurricane Eloise.
We have LIVE coverage from crews across Florida and Georgia throughout the day on Channel 2 Action News.
Major hurricane landfall is rare. I did some research and was surprised to find that since 1851 there have been only 6 major hurricanes to make landfall within 75 miles of Panama City Beach. All were Category 3.— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) October 10, 2018
Four of these were in the 1800s. pic.twitter.com/RsdaYZUVs4
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Nitz said that Michael is in the top 5 strongest hurricanes to hit Florida since 1851:
Hurricane Michael’s windspeed is preliminary, estimated at 155 mph at landfall. pic.twitter.com/AdxZLgDRGH— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) October 10, 2018
The strongest hurricanes before Michael to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle had wind speeds of 125 mph as Category 3 storms.
Hurricane Eloise made landfall as a Category 3 near Fort Walton Beach on Sept. 23, 1975, with peak wind gusts of 115 mph. The storm surge with Eloise reached as high as 10.6 feet in Destin.
Hurricane, storm surge and tropical storm warnings extend into Florida, Georgia and Alabama as Michael moves across the Southeast.
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