Monday, 22 October, 2018

Hurricane Michael gaining strength as it approaches Florida panhandle

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas LIVE RADAR: Tracking Hurricane Michael
Glenn Montgomery | 10 October, 2018, 08:31

By 11 a.m., Michael had winds of 110 miles per hour, just below a major Category 3 hurricane, and was getting stronger, drawing energy from Gulf waters with temperatures in the mid-80s.

Since the storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf, which has very warm water temperatures and favourable atmospheric conditions, "there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall", Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub, wrote in an advisory.

A storm surge watch is in effect for the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, and for the Alabama-Florida border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line.

Hurricane and storm surge warnings are now in effect for parts of Florida, with watches extending west into Alabama.

Thank you for signing up for the STL Morning Rush Newsletter. Its center is located 200 miles south southwest of Apalachicola and 225 miles south of Panama City.

Tropical-storm-force winds will be felt in the area starting early Wednesday, and mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders already have been issued in at least 16 Florida counties along and near the state's Panhandle and Big Bend coasts.

Scott also warned caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all possible to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.

Global analytics firm CoreLogic estimates that the total reconstruction value if all these homes were actually destroyed by what's forecast to be a Category 3 hurricane - winds up to 129 miles per hour - could amount to $13.4 billion.

"Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and it keeps getting more risky", Florida Governor Rick Scott told a news conference on Tuesday.

Scott declared an emergency in 35 counties and asked President Donald Trump for help.

State offices, schools and universities were to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties. "Take care of them", Scott said.

The governor activated 750 national guardsman for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.

"Do not take a chance on storm surge", Scott said.

"Minimal impact" is a lousy title for an action film but a good prediction for a hurricane, and that's what Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said was coming to the D.C. area.

In the popular tourist destination of Seaside, people were starting to feel nervous, said Kevin Boyle, the town's director of events. "But don't let this storm catch you with your guard down".

"I haven't made up my mind yet, but I know some of my staff are going", said Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly, a restaurant a block from the beach in Panama City, Bay County, an area where the hurricane is expected to come ashore.

Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous hurricane" with devastating potential from high winds, storm surge and heavy rains.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum says the rapid rise of Hurricane Michael led city officials to hold a "sobering" discussion about the potential impact the storm will have on the area. "Storm preparations should be rushed to completion today and Tuesday".

Unlike Florence, which ravaged the eastern Carolinas only three weeks ago, Michael is expected to move rapidly once it bores inland to Georgia and SC.

"Any way you look at it, we'll get rain from this system to some degree", Orrock said, adding as time moves on, the storm's track will become more clear.

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