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People look out to the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Michael approaches Oct. 9 in Panama City Beach, FL. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

Hurricane Michael intensified into a Category 4 storm early Wednesday morning as it whirled towards the Florida Panhandle, where it is expected to make landfall this afternoon, CNN reported.

If it retains its strength, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said it could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Panhandle in recorded history. It could also be the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. this year.

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