Friday, 19 October, 2018

Hurricane Michael heads for Florida as NC also braces for strike

Tracking Michael What You Need to Know Weather forecast: PM thunderstorms expected
Andrew Cummings | 10 October, 2018, 03:28

Hurricane Michael, which forecasters expect to make landfall around Panama City Wednesday, has forced mandatory evacuation orders for coastal or low-lying areas for almost a dozen counties as of Tuesday, according to the state emergency web site: Bay, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Taylor, Wakulla and Walton.

Mandatory evacuations are under way in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the Florida Panhandle as Hurricane Michael approaches.

As of the 8 a.m. advisory, Michael was 395 miles south of Panama City, moving north-northwest at 12 mph.

Michael gained new strength over warm tropical waters amid a forecast that it would swiftly intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida's northeast Gulf Coast, where frantic coastal residents were boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from the risky storm heading their way.

Already, by Tuesday afternoon, storm surge had begun to affect areas of Florida, coasts of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature Coast, where the National Hurricane Center has issued a storm-surge warning.

The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain with storm surges up to 3.7m, according to the US National Hurricane Center. Voluntary evacuations were ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties. He said Tuesday that he doesn't expect he'll get resupplied soon, because stations nearer to interstate highways will get priority.

Flash flooding and tornadoes are also possible with any hurricane and parts of Alabama have been placed under tropical storm watches or warnings.

Authorities stressed the danger of the storm surge, when hurricanes push sea water high above their normal levels causing coastal flooding.

The system has now graduated to Category 2 hurricane status and is expected to reach Category 3 (with winds in excess of 110 mph) when it makes its USA mainland landfall on Wednesday afternoon.

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Hurricane Michael would be the first major hurricane to hit the panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005, which made landfall near Pensacola, according to hurricane centre data.

The storm is now a Category 3 storm packing winds of more than 120 miles per hour and is expected to grow even more potent before it makes landfall Wednesday, likely near Panama City Beach. Warm ocean temperatures, which fuel storm development, are two to four degrees above normal, and wind shear, which tends to slow hurricane development, was forecast to ease. The governor has activated 500 Florida National Guard troops and said another 5,500 are available and preparing, for missions including search and rescue and humanitarian assistance. If Michael's forecast proves right, there's a 95 percent chance the area's dunes will be flooded by storm waters. Hurricane conditions will also spread well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds were outward up to 185 miles.

"It is a monstrous storm and the forecast (keeps) getting more unsafe", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post.

"In light of the storm's forecasted track, I encourage Georgians in the affected counties to be prepared and remain vigilant".

In neighbouring Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey signed an emergency declaration for her entire state Monday in anticipation of widespread power outages, wind damage and heavy rain from the storm getting set to cross the eastern Gulf of Mexico in coming hours.

In Georgia, which will be hit by damaging winds and downed power lines, Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for 92 of his state's counties.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has issued a state of emergency for 26 counties.

Hurricane Michael in a satellite image taken Tuesday.

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