Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 3 as it menaces Florida

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas JUST IN: Tropical Storm Nadine forms, Michael wind speeds up to 110 mph
Sandra Phillips | 10 October, 2018, 06:39

Unfortunately, Hurricane Michael is now forecast to be even stronger than the intensity of Opal at landfall at 125 miles per hour, meaning the devastating impacts of storm surge, strong winds, and heavy rains may be even greater.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, and a hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

The storm is expected to unleash coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) along Florida's Panhandle and dump as much as a foot (30 cm) of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

Although Michael will produce heavy rain showers, the storm's accelerating forward movement should allow those downpours to move through and not over-saturate most areas.

Hurricane Michael suddenly became news on Monday after eclipsing its former tropical-storm status while lashing Cuba. "The time to prepare is now". There is also little chance that the storm's path will shift majorly east or west, based on the latest models.

Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images People line up for gasoline outside Tallahassee, Florida, on Monday as Hurricane Michael bears down on the northern Gulf coast.

The Gulf accounts for 17 percent of daily USA crude oil output and 5 percent of daily gas production, according to government figures. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.

Scott on Monday expanded a state of emergency to a total of 35 Florida counties, the news release said.

Florida's governor Rick Scott called Michael "a monstrous hurricane", and has declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties from the panhandle to Tampa Bay.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency had numerous teams deployed and ready to respond, said FEMA spokesman Jeff Byard. About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were aiding the process and more than 4,000 troops placed on standby, Scott tweeted. With just a month to go before Election Day, voters were also given one more day to register to vote, once offices reopen after the storm.

In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week.

"It looks like what we are planning for Wednesday is tropical storm-force winds of 39 to 57 miles per hour", said Jonathan Lord, Flagler County's emergency services chief. Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.

Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and stock up on bottled water and other supplies. Gov. Kay Ivey said she feared widespread power outages and other problems would follow.

The last major hurricane to hit northwest Florida was in 2005, when Hurricane Dennis made landfall at Santa Rosa Island, FL, as a Category 3 storm, the Northwest Florida Daily Newsreported.

Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Michael was about 360 miles south of Panama City, moving north-northwestward at 12 mph.

Interaction between Michael and a high pressure system to the north were creating windy and hazardous conditions along local beaches Monday, coinciding with seasonal high tides. However, forecasters always note it is not possible to say where a hurricane will land until it is closer to the coast.

Michael also could dump up to 30 centimetres of rain over some Panhandle communities before it sweeps over Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia on Wednesday and Thursday (Thursday and Friday NZT).

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