Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By Lila Blake

Strengthening Hurricane Michael aiming for Florida Panhandle

Strengthening Hurricane Michael aiming for Florida Panhandle

The speed of the storm barreling toward the Florida Panhandle - Michael was moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour (19 kph) - was among the hazards worrying forecasters at the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday morning.

Hurricane Michael swiftly intensified into a Category 2 over warm Gulf of Mexico waters Tuesday amid fears it would strike Florida on Wednesday as a major hurricane. Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said anywhere from Panama City to Cedar Key, Florida could see significant storm surge from Hurricane Michael.

Experts predict that Hurricane Michael could pose a similar threat, with storm surge and inland flooding from intense rainfall ultimately responsible for most of the damage and death. Larger surf is expected Tuesday, Malphurs said, and access ramps are expected to be closed to driving all morning and into the early afternoon.

After it makes landfall, the storm is predicted to pass into Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency covering 92 counties - almost the entire lower two-thirds of his state.

Speaking in a press conference updating residents on the progress of the storm Florida Governor Rick Scott said: "If you're on the fence about thinking whether to evacuate, don't be on the fence".

A hurricane warning was issued for much of the Florida panhandle, with tropical storm watches and warnings issued for areas nearby.


Most of the region will see winds at 25-35 miles per hour. Jacksonville will experience tropical downpours and storms by Wednesday evening as the system makes landfall.

Coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) are expected along the panhandle. "Residents in these areas should follow all advice given by their local officials", the hurricane center said. But despite that, Michael has the potential to become a major hurricane, possibly a Category 3.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency in anticipation of widespread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but he said he would return to Tallahassee to help with storm preparations. Forecasters said tornadoes could spin off the storm and 7.5cm to 15cm of rain could cause flash floods as it barrels over a corner of the country still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in Wakulla, Gulf and Bay counties.

Everyone in hurricane and storm surge warning zones should prepare for life-threatening winds, the NHC said.


A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida.

The storm was about 220 kilometres east-northwest of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of winds of 120 kilometres per hour, forecasters said.

All told, over 100 counties throughout multiple states have received emergency declarations, and this CNN clip shows the storm's frightening approach on radar.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Michael "a potentially catastrophic storm" for the capital city.

Michael was a Category 1 hurricane but could make landfall as a Category 3, and forecasters warned it could send down 10 to 30 centimetres of rain.


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