Hurricane Michael takes aim at 300-mile Gulf Coast target

10 October, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Michael strengthens into a hurricane forecast to become Cat 3 by Tuesday

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.

In advance of the storm on Monday, emergency managers ordered mandatory evacuations along the coast expected to see the fiercest winds and highest surge, including Wakulla, Franklin, Gulf and Bay counties.

At 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Tuesday, Michael's center was about 335 miles (535 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, heading north at around 12 mph (19 kph), the NHC said.

Hurricane Michael will likely strengthen to a Category 3 storm before it makes landfall on the Gulf Coast, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said a "life-threatening storm surge" was expected along much of the coast of the Florida Panhandle.

Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see up to 12 feet of storm surge.

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

Hurricane warnings blanketed much of northeastern Florida, from the Suwanee River to the Alabama border.

The most recent October landfalling hurricane in the Florida Panhandle was Hurricane Opal - a Category 3 storm in 1995. However, they warned the amount and location of surge remains somewhat uncertain depending on the storm's exact path.

With Florence still in mind, Michael may be making an appearance this week.


A fast and furious Hurricane Michael sped toward the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday with 120 miles per hour winds and a potential storm surge of 13 feet, giving tens of thousands of people precious little time to get out or board up. Forecasters expect Michael will be followed by the first true taste of fall weather in North Carolina this year, with sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 70s both Saturday and Sunday.

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

In Carrabelle, Florida, resident Cole Lauzau said she is planning to try riding out the storm at home with her roommate and their dog. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30 centimetres) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. Hurricane conditions will also spread well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said Michael had top sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (175 kph). "You need to take care of yourselves".

Two years ago, Hurricane Hermine knocked out power for days in Tallahassee and caused widespread flooding as it came up through the Gulf Coast.

On its current track, it would make landfall somewhere along a coastline that includes the cities and towns of Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, St. Teresa and the wildlife reserves bordering Apalachee Bay.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties.

Ivey signed the emergency declaration Monday in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and heavy rain associated with the storm.

Even political campaigning took a back seat for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, who instead helped residents fill sandbags.

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