Michael strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane early Wednesday morning and is expected to become one of the worst hurricanes in memory to hit the Florida Panhandle.

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Heavy rainfall is expected along the northeastern Gulf Coast and life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters).

Officials in Florida urged or ordered about 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to leave the area. Evacuations covered 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

Michael is the seventh hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.

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