Hurricane Michael expected to rapidly intensify; Tropical Storm Watch for Mississippi

10 October, 2018, 09:50 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

An estimated 120,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were ordered to clear out on Tuesday as Hurricane Michael rapidly picked up steam in the Gulf of Mexico and closed in with winds of 110 miles per hour and a potential storm surge of 12 feet.

The storm is about 270 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, and moving north at 12 mph.

Michael continues to overcome high shear, which would typically hinder hurricane development, yet the tenacious storm is organizing despite the obstacle.

The couple were supposed to get hitched Wednesday in Florida's Panama City Beach, but Michael's approach forced mandatory evacuations there.

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 center data. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.

Hurricane Michael is poised to slam Florida's Panhandle by Wednesday afternoon, threatening unsafe storm surges to low-lying areas ill-equipped to handle them - and officials are urging people to get out of the way now.

Forecasters anticipate Michael will reach land either in the Panhandle or somewhere along the state's Big Bend as soon as Wednesday morning.

Most of the rain was blamed on a low-pressure system off the Pacific coast, but Hurricane Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed.

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Currently, the bulk of the forecast model guidance has the storm tracking southeast of the Maritimes, as well as Newfoundland this weekend. If it were to come any farther north, larger wind and rain impacts would be possible. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center said. But despite that, Michael has the potential to become a major hurricane, possibly a Category 3.

In neighbouring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.

Governor Scott warned in a news conference that Hurricane Michael was a "massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle".

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move north-east on Wednesday and Thursday along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. Scott also said Monday afternoon that state health officials are reaching out to hospitals and nursing homes to be prepared.

Everyone in hurricane and storm surge warning zones should prepare for life-threatening winds, the NHC said. The National Hurricane Center said that Michael's sustained winds have increased to nearly 125mph. Isolated areas could get 12 inches with the threat of life-threatening flash floods and storm surge.

Governor Rick Scott´s office said mandatory evacuation orders were in place for parts of Bay County, which includes the popular Panama City beach resort, and areas in nearby Gulf and Franklin counties.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

Even neighbors in Alabama were bracing.

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