Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Hurricane Michael Grows Stronger, Expected To Reach Category 4

Hurricane Michael Grows Stronger, Expected To Reach Category 4

Hurricane Michael is forecast to be one of the most destructive storms to come ashore in the Panhandle in decades, but the state's emergency management chief is accusing local officials of not sufficiently preparing for the storm.

NHC Director Ken Graham said Michael represented a "textbook case" of a hurricane system that may grow stronger as it draws near shore, in contrast to Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after a slow, halting approach and weakening before landfall. An average hurricane season has 12 named storms.

The storm will quickly move inland and race to the northeast through the Southeastern US, exiting the Mid-Atlantic and sliding south of New England before the weekend.

Michael is expected to sweep up the East Coast, and tropical storm-force winds were projected to reach the state Thursday, according to the center's projections.

At least 120,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were ordered to clear out Tuesday as Hurricane Michael rapidly picked up steam in the Gulf of Mexico and closed in with winds of 110 miles per hour (175 kph) and a potential storm surge of 12 feet (3.7 meters).

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 in the mid-80s.

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.

With Florence still in mind, Michael may be making an appearance this week. A coastal flood advisory is in effect for Flagler County through Wednesday. The storm was centred about 30 miles (48 kilometres) off the western tip of Cuba, and about 520 miles (837 kilometres) south of Apalachicola.

Michael lashed western Cuba Monday with heavy rains and strong winds. The rains could bring life-threatening flash flooding.

According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four people in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to unsafe levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT).

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties along Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend regions.

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Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental USA since Irma in September of a year ago.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".

With an officiant standing in front of them, the couple said their vows on the beach as brisk winds brushed them. The county has opened two sandbag locations for residents.

Tallahassee´s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is campaigning to succeed Scott as governor in next month´s elections, suspended his campaign and returned to the state capital to oversee storm preparations.

"This is a life-threatening situation", the NHC said Tuesday.

"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.

It's likely that Hurricane Michael will cause beach erosion for 75 percent of Florida's Gulf Coast Beaches, the USGS predicted. Many filled sandbags, boarded up homes and lined up to buy gas and groceries. He said Tuesday that he doesn't expect he'll get resupplied soon, because stations nearer to interstate highways will get priority.

"We (first) bumped it up to Tuesday night. and then we bumped it up to Tuesday morning", Cindy Guinn said.

The Florida Disaster website on October 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Each line is a different forecast model projection for the track of Michael later this week.

"The state is not taking this storm lightly and neither should any family".

The highest concern for damaging winds, of course, is near the center of the storm. A storm surge up to 12 feet is possible along portions of Florida's Gulf Coast from Steinhatchee to Apalachicola Bay. Richard Butgereit, the state's disaster agency chief information officer, said at a Monday briefing that workers were also complaining about the Wi-Fi at the EOC and were bringing in their own wireless devices during a state of emergency.

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