*By Amanda Weston* Hurricane Michael will likely cause "catastrophic" damage in Florida and run a cost of roughly $30 billion, said the founder and president of AccuWeather. "This is probably as strong a hurricane as has ever hit the Panhandle of Florida," Joel Myers told Cheddar Wednesday. "It's a very serious storm." Hurricane Michael is barreling toward the southeastern U.S., bringing devastating winds and flooding after it strengthened to a Category 4 late on Tuesday ー it was Category 1 just that morning. The historic storm is set to hit the Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon. The forecast includes wind gusts up to 160 mph near and just east of where the storm makes landfall. There could also be tornadoes, flooding, and mudslides as Michael moves inland. Parts of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama are under [states of emergency](https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/reports-category-4-hurricane-michael-poised-to-become-most-powerful-storm-to-ever-strike-florida-panhandle/70006306), and mandatory evacuations are in place along part of the Florida coast. "Everybody should have evacuated. If anybody can still get out, they should get out," Myers said. "This is a life-threatening storm. There will be fatalities. There's no question about it." AccuWeather said the last hurricane to make landfall as a Category 4 was in 1954 ーHazel, which struck the Carolina coast. Communities still recovering from last month's Hurricane Florence, which dissipated to a Category 1 by the time it hit shore, are in Michael's path. Myers said there will be flooding in the Carolinas since the ground is already saturated. "Any rain that falls is going to run off, so there'll be some flash flooding," he said. "There'll be some stream flooding. And of course, with the ground wet, any wind gusts of significance can uproot trees, down power lines. So there will be some damage in the Carolinas, areas that are cleaning up, already affected. This is going to set that back." For full interview [click here](https://cheddar.com/videos/hurricane-michael-set-to-cause-30-billion-in-damage).

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