CARS

Hurricane Michael poised to batter Florida with 145 mpg winds

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Hurricane Michael is barreling toward Florida’s Panhandle as a Category 4 storm with winds of 145 mph, as many dealership owners in its path brace for what the National Hurricane Center is calling a “potentially catastrophic” storm.

As of 12:13 p.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said the hurricane is nearing the Florida Panhandle coast between St. Vincent Island and Panama City. The hurricane is about 35 miles southwest of Mexico Beach, Fla. and about 40 miles south of Panama City.

Maximum sustained winds are reaching 150 mph. The storm is expected to make landfall later Wednesday.

For more live coverage from The Weather Channel, click here.

Many dealerships in Panama City closed Tuesday to prepare for the storm, including Panama City Toyota, while Bill Cramer Chevrolet-Buick-GMC shut down around early Tuesday. CarMax also closed three stores in Tallahassee and Pensacola, Fla., and Dothan, Ala., by mid-Tuesday afternoon ahead of the storm.

Sonic Automotive Inc. operates Pensacola Honda and Audi Pensacola. Sonic President Jeff Dyke in a text message Tuesday said the dealership group was taking normal precautions for the two stores. He could not immediately be reached for further comment.

A message on Pensacola Honda’s website said, “We will be closed Wednesday to allow our associates time to prepare for the storm and will reopen Thursday as soon as it’s safe for our team and valued customers.” Audi Pensacola’s website said the store was closed because of inclement weather.

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