Flooding on Pinellas beaches signals Hurricane Michael's march toward Florida Panhandle

Mindy Sparks
October 12, 2018

National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has warned residents to "prepare for life-threatening winds".

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"The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline", the NHC said.

Among them was Betty Early, 75, a retiree who joined about 300 fellow evacuees huddled on makeshift bedrolls of blankets and collapsed cardboard boxes at an elementary school converted into an American Red Cross shelter in Panama City, near the storm's expected landfall.

"Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, at a Tuesday news conference, adding that it could bring "total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle".

Gary Givens, owner of Gary's Oyster Shack in Panama City, Florida, said he was closing his restaurant around lunch time on Tuesday with the help of his crew ahead of the storm's arrival.

While Florence took five days between the time it turned into a hurricane and the moment it rolled into the Carolinas, Michael gave Florida what amounted to two days' notice. In the Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Island areas, storm surges could reach as high as four feet, according to the NHC.

Scott warned north Florida hospitals and nursing homes on Monday to do everything possible to provide for the safety of elderly and infirmed patients. Following Hurricane Irma previous year, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

"You really can't run away from the winds of a hurricane, but you can avoid the water", Cline said. "They are their best first responders".

"Think about what we've seen before with storms like Hurricane Irma", he said. Many filled sandbags and boarded up homes and lined up to buy gas and groceries before leaving town.

Forecasters said parts of the Panhandle and Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see 9 to 13 feet (2.7 to 4 meters) of storm surge.

Michael underwent a period of "rapid intensification" on Sunday and Monday, its winds strengthening by more than 35 miles per hour. Even so, 77-year-old resident Robert Sadousky wasn't quite ready to evacuate yet.

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed, " the sheriff's office said in the post. All told, over 100 counties throughout multiple states have received emergency declarations, and this CNN clip shows the storm's frightening approach on radar. She's especially concerned about widespread power outages. Forecasters are also predicting the possibility of spinoff tornadoes. Michael, which had caught many by surprise with its rapid intensification as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, was the most powerful recorded storm ever to hit the Panhandle.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, filled sandbags with residents and urged residents of the state capital city to finish up emergency preparations quickly.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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