Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

US Gulf Coast bracing for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael

Enhanced infrared satellite loop of Hurricane Michael about to enter the Gulf of Mexico Enhanced infrared satellite loop of Hurricane Michael about to enter the Gulf of Mexico
Frank Williams | 10 October, 2018, 19:55

Given the warm, open Gulf water and relatively low influence of wind shear on the system, the NHC is warning that Michael will become a category four storm by the time it makes landfall on the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued on Monday for residents in various areas in Gulf County, Florida, according to a statement from county emergency officials. Life-threatening storm surge warnings have been issued for these areas, as well.

Florida State University campuses in Tallahassee and Panama City plan to close Tuesday through Friday.

CNN reports that such language is warranted, for Michael is now "slashing Cuba" and is expected to reach Category 3 status (with sustained winds from 111-129 mph) by Wednesday when it reaches the USA mainland. The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, is expected to become a hurricane later today-and could be a major hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Forecasters predicted Michael would be a major hurricane - Category 3 or stronger - by the time it arrived Wednesday.

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.

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The governor warns that storm surge could be as high as 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) in some parts of the Panhandle and 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) in the Tampa Bay area. Governor Ivey is also directing the appropriate state agencies to exercise their statutory authority to assist the communities and entities affected by the storm.

"Take this seriously and keep your family safe", Scott said from Bay County on Monday. A broad swath of Florida's Big Bend is now projected to see a storm surge of anywhere from eight to twelve feet. "Shelter from hurricane-force winds like you would for a tornado, and don't stay in mobile homes even for a tropical storm".

Hurricane Florence pounded SC in September, particularly the state's northeastern counties, causing flooding, evacuations and millions of dollars in damage to homes, roads and bridges. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers).

By 5 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 80 miles per hour.

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday called Hurricane Michael a "monstrous" and potentially "deadly" storm that is barreling toward Florida.

At 4 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said Michael was about 30 miles northwest of the western tip of Cuba and was moving north at 9 mph. It is expected to cut quickly across the Peach State toward the Carolinas and areas flooded severely last month by Hurricane Florence. He added, "Today it is about life and safety". It will weaken into a tropical storm near the Carolinas and Virginia on its way back to the Atlantic Ocean, forecasters said. This will likely be a storm with the worst impacts seen overnight on Wednesday.

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