Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Hurricane Michael expected to intensify as it bears down on Florida Panhandle

Satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael lower right churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle 'Running out of time': Florida braces for dangerous floods as Hurricane Michael strengthens
Frank Williams | 10 October, 2018, 01:34

The storm is strengthening as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico, and the hurricane is predicted to be a major storm when it hits the Florida panhandle on Wednesday.

On Monday and Tuesday, the storm has taken advantage of low wind shear-allowing it to maintain a tight circulation and organized vertical structure-as well as warm, late-summer waters in the Gulf of Mexico to intensify.

Hurricane Michael grew stronger Tuesday as it roared toward Florida's Gulf Coast, gaining Category 2 status and threatening to wreak historic devastation on a state walloped by Hurricane Irma's historic rage 13 months ago.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River in Florida.

"Monstrous" Hurricane Michael bore down on northwestern Florida on Tuesday and was expected to strengthen into a powerful Category 3 storm before hitting land on Wednesday, triggering unsafe coastal flooding and bringing high winds and torrential rains.

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.

A life-threatening storm surge has been predicted along Florida's Gulf Coast, along with unsafe winds and heavy rainfall.

AccuWeather chief Joel Myers said Michael is forecast to roll through the region much more quickly than did the lingering Florence, which dumped up to 40 inches of rain in some areas. Severe storm surge is a possibility over a large portion of the Florida panhandle, with the highest surge expected to the right of the storm's track.

Storm surge that could be greater than 6 feet is forecast as far south as Crystal River with more than 9 feet into Apalachicola Bay. "Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves through the southeastern United States" Wednesday night and Thursday.

NWS forecasters also warned of a high rip current risk along the Grand Strand Tuesday. "You need to evacuate if you're ordered to do so", Scott said.

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"Storm surge is absolutely deadly", Scott said. "It's forecast to be a large and unsafe hurricane at landfall". Most of the rain was blamed on a low-pressure system off the Pacific coast, but Hurricane Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and said he was seeking a federal disaster declaration from President Donald Trump, who promised full support for Florida's efforts. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center said.

"There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water, and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts", Gillum said. Plenty of water. I made sure we've got clean clothes.

"Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle", Scott said.

The storm became a category 1 hurricane on Monday, and could be a category 2 or 3 storm by the time it hits Florida.

State offices, schools and universities were to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

According to an alert published by the Cuban Civil Defense, meteorologists warned affected residents that they could experience hurricane-force winds.

It should be stressed that these figures aren't estimates of losses for hurricane Michael, rather simulated estimates for older storms in the same area that factor in today's exposure levels.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Residents also stocked up on food, water and gas.

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