Hurricane Michael's powers to a major hurricane

Winds now at 120 mph

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist, John Gaughan - Chief meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hurricane Michael's winds have increased in the latest 5 pm update by the National Hurricane Center and the fear is that no weakening is possible until it makes landfall.

UPDATE: Michael strengthens to major hurricane

No significant shift in the track which is pointed at Panama City.

The eye of Michael is currently moving northward about 12 mph over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, but is expected to make landfall near Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend on Wednesday afternoon.

The latest data from Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate Michael is packing maximum sustained winds near 120 mph with higher gusts. 

Jacksonville will experience tropical storm force gusts Wednesday evening and Thursday morning long after the hurricane makes landfall. 

Isolated tornadoes are possible overnight Wednesday in southern Georgia wich is under a tropical storm warning.

According the NHC, Michael could bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall along the northeastern Gulf Coast.

The storm surge risk is higher with the arrival of the astronomical king tide cycles. As a result, the Big Bend could see up to 12 feet of storm surge, while the Panhandle may see up to a foot of rain.

A Storm Surge Warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast of Florida from the Okaloosa/Walton County Line to the Anclote River.

The Storm Surge Watch is in effect for the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including
Tampa Bay, and from the Alabama/Florida border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line in Florida.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued for the Gulf Coast of Florida from the Alabama/Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued from the Alabama/Florida border westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Alabama/Florida border westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border and from the Suwannee River in Florida southward to Chassahowitzka, Florida.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Pearl River and from Fernandina Beach to South Santee River South Carolina.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.