Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Trinis watch for Hurricane Michael

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Baltimore Fleet Week and Air Show Oct. 7 U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at the Baltimore Fleet Week and Air Show Oct. 7
Andrew Cummings | 09 October, 2018, 05:14

Florida's governor mobilized National Guard troops and ordered Gulf Coast residents to evacuate as Hurricane Michael churned toward shore on Monday, with "life threatening" storm surges, winds and flooding feared when it makes landfall on Wednesday.

Tropical storm Michael formed off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Sunday, and quickly strengthened to hurricane status by Monday, faster than expected.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

Michael's large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida's Gulf coast with many rivers and estuaries where seawater pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped, said Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham. "The current track has it making landfall near the Florida panhandle and moving inland through Georgia, South Carolina and into North Carolina".

"If this storm hits near Panama City, the Tampa area will still see life threatening storm surge", Scott said.

Florida State University announced it will close from Tuesday through Friday this week.

As forecast, Michael would be the first Category 3 or higher hurricane to hit the Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

Escambia through Franklin counties in Northwest Florida are included in the hurricane watch. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 miles per hour (65 km/h) with higher gusts.

"That means the Panhandle and Big Bend can see winds in excess of 100 miles per hour".

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"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said in a news briefing.

In the Caribbean, a hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.

A storm surge warning is in effect for Okaloosa/Walton County Line in Florida to the Anclote River in Florida. Scott also said Monday afternoon that state health officials are reaching out to hospitals and nursing homes to be prepared.

Saavedra said it is too early to say the exact track the storm will take but area residents should plan for severe weather around Thursday, though timing could change as confidence in tracking models increase.

With widespread power outages expected, Scott said he wants local governments to confirm that mutual-aid agreements with electric utilities have been signed so there is no delay in restoration.

Hurricane Michael continues to push towards the Gulf of Mexico and looks to continue its trend of rapidly strengthening.

The storm is tracking east of major oil lease areas, limiting its effect on production, said John Tharp, operations supervisor at Weather Decision Technologies. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. We handle them very well...

Interests along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast areas are advised to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Michael.

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