Strengthening hurricane closes in on Florida Panhandle

Terry Joseph
October 10, 2018

As Michael moved over open water, energy companies halted almost one-fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated personnel from 10 platforms on Monday.

By 11 a.m., Michael had winds of 110 miles per hour, just below a major Category 3 hurricane, and was getting stronger, drawing energy from Gulf waters with temperatures in the mid-80s.

More than 300 miles of coastline from Mobile, AL, through the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area are threatened, according to the NHC.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, with a hurricane watch in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm could unleash coastal storm surges of up to 3.7 meters along the Florida Panhandle and dump up to 30 cm of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC.

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on Wednesday and Thursday tearing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

The WGNO weather team will continue to monitor the latest information on Hurricane Michael and will continue to bring you the latest updates on-air, online, and on social media.

Still, not everyone is heeding evacuation orders.

"Also, since the ground is saturated in many areas it will not take as much wind to topple weakened trees causing additional power outages", he added. He specifically pointed to forecasts of 8-12 feet of storm surge that could reach miles in from shore.

As for airlines, United has announced the cancellation of all flights to and from those three airports from now through Wednesday afternoon with travel waivers in effect for several other airports in the region.

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"If you don't follow warnings from officials this storm could kill you", said the Republican governor, who is campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat in the November congressional elections.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said at a news conference Sunday.

As with any hurricane that makes landfall, there will be the risk of tornadoes being spawned. Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties, and advised Gulf Coast residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders.

"We are running out of time", the Republican governor said on Twitter.

Thousands of Florida residents have been ordered to leave their homes as Hurricane Michael heads for the state's coast. "This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared". She predicts a storm surge of eight to 12 feet around the Florida Panhandle - "catastrophic" for that area. That's just below the threshold for a "major" hurricane, and forecasters say they still expect Michael to get stronger.

Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee.

The Weather Service in Wilmington warned Tuesday morning that the area could get 2 to 4 inches of rain. The storm will then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico later Tuesday into the night. "Now is the time for residents in south Alabama to review your emergency preparedness plans and also get prepared".

At least 13 people have died in Central America over the weekend because of torrential rains and flash flooding caused by the storm.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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