Evacuations ordered as ‘monstrous’ Hurricane Michael approaches Florida

Mindy Sparks
October 10, 2018

Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane, the term for storms reaching Category 3 and higher, with winds topping 111 miles per hour by Tuesday night before an expected strike Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Michael will likely become a weak category 1 hurricane with heavy rain and unsafe storm surge.

Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 Florida counties, mostly encompassing rural areas known for small tourist cities, beaches, wildlife reserves and Tallahassee, the state capital. It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by Tuesday, more than 180,000 people were already under mandatory evacuation orders.

Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for 26 counties, in order to free up resources and put the Florida National Guard on notice.

"Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so", the NHC said Monday.

Several people were taken by van from coastal Wakulla County to Tallahassee's Leon County to the north. Wakulla County's shelters are not considered reliable against storms stronger than a Category 2.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference.

High winds weren't the only danger.

In the Washington DC region we are expecting the remnants of Michael to combine with an approaching cold front to bring us rain here late Wednesday night though Thursday. It was moving north at 12 miles per hour. The storm was centred about 30 miles (48km) off the western tip of Cuba, and about 520 miles (837km) south of Apalachicola. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 56 kilometres from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 280 kilometres. Michael is now a strong category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Forecasters warned Michael could dump up to 30 centimetres of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.

A map posted by the National Hurricane Center Monday afternoon shows the Columbus area with as much as an 80 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm winds from Michael, which would be at least 39 miles per hour.

School closures include Northwest Florida State College, the University of West Florida and Florida State University campuses in Pensacola and Tallahassee.

"Today it is about life and safety", Gillum said. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Hurricane Harvey - causing a record-equalling $125bn in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Ann Beaver was among the many city residents who lost power that time - and braced for a similar experience to come.

"There's so much more to the emergency preparedness than the generators", she said.

"I don't want to lose everything in the freezer, but it is what is", said Beaver as she loaded sandbags into her family's pickup truck.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster response. As Micheal moves north the storm will continue to strengthen, and it could become a major Category 3 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico by midweek.

Hurricane Michel will also cause heavy storms in Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo, all in Mexico. Winds of up to 31mph (50kmh) are expected on the coast of Campeche.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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