Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Hurricane Michael puts 57000 Gulf Coast homes at risk

'Running out of time': Florida braces for dangerous floods as Hurricane Michael strengthens Hurricane Michael expected to rapidly intensify; Tropical Storm Watch for Mississippi
Guillermo Lane | 10 October, 2018, 02:31

The storm is strengthening and expected to hit the Florida Gulf Coast as a risky major hurricane Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.

"For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life".

A hurricane hunter plane has found that Michael continues to strengthen as it moves north over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

In the Caribbean, a hurricane warning for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio was downgraded to a tropical storm warning Tuesday morning, while a tropical storm warning was discontinued for the Isle of Youth.

Meanwhile, tropical storm warnings extend from Florida's Chassahowitzka River to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

"I've spoken to FEMA administrator Brock long several times - a team from FEMA is here at the state's emergency operation center and providing federal assistance, " announced Scott. About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were aiding the process and more than 4,000 troops placed on standby, Scott tweeted.

With just a month to go before Election Day, Florida voters in evacuation zones were also given one more day to register to vote, once offices reopen after the storm.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties. Lines at gasoline stations grew as people left. Those who planned to stay emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies throughout the day on Monday.

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Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen for hurricane duty. "This is the real thing, a significant threat to life and safety".

More than 45 per cent of the nation's refining capacity is located along the US Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 per cent of total US natural gas processing capability.

Some Panama City residents were seen on the beach enjoying the cool breeze ahead of the storm, while others were loading up cars with luggage and visitors were checking out of hotels.

As of the 4pm CDT advisory Monday evening, Michael was a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said Michael had top sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.

On its current track, it would make landfall somewhere along a coastline that includes the cities and towns of Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, St. Teresa and the wildlife reserves bordering Apalachee Bay. Officially, the National Hurricane Center predicts the hurricane will come ashore with 125mph winds on Wednesday afternoon, but as always with the poorly understood intensification process, there remains some uncertainty.

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. The storm's interaction with a high pressure to the north is helping to create hazardous conditions on local beaches where Weather Service advisories are in effect.

After landfall, a cold front traveling across the U.S.is expected to pick Michael up and take it through Georgia and the Carolinas.

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