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

Michael heading for Florida panhandle

Michael heading for Florida panhandle

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on Wednesday and Thursday ploughing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

"#HurricaneMichael isn't heading to any one town..."

As with any hurricane that makes landfall, there will be the risk of tornadoes being spawned. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 175 miles (280 kilometers).

Most of the region will see winds at 25-35 miles per hour.

The National Hurricane center says the storm is expected to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night. The storm should also bring breezy conditions to Western North Carolina Thursday.

As of 5 a.m. ET, Michael's center was about 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida and 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida.

Michael was moving north at 12 miles per hour.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Florida's west coast from the Suwannee River to Chassahowitzka.

A life-threatening storm surge has been predicted along Florida's Gulf Coast, along with risky winds and heavy rainfall. The center of Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said a "life-threatening storm surge" was expected along much of the coast of the Florida Panhandle.

"Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a Monday press conference.

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Hurricane Michael, pictured in a satellite image taken on October 8, 2018, when it was still a tropical storm, could produce life-threatening flooding. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

"Everybody's got to get ready".

Because of this threat of power outages, Horry County spokeswoman Kelly Moore said residents should make sure they're prepared to be without electricity. The governors of Alabama and Georgia also declared emergencies. The governor has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties, and is stressing that residents should "absolutely" evacuate if ordered to.

He noted that residents in the nearby coastal county of Wakulla were being forced to keep their shelters shut because they aren't built to withstand severe winds that may come with Hurricane Michael. Forecasters said Michael could cause a storm surge of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) above normal sea water levels in Florida.

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

Some 120,000 people people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.

Michael surprised forecasters Monday when an investigating flight found the storm more organized than expected and growing stronger.

Initially a tropical depression, Michael intensified rapidly into a hurricane in just 24 hours.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for.

During a briefing Tuesday, Scott said the state's emergency response center is now active and includes a 24-hour response hotline.

Both Peaton and Scott encourage residents to have at least three days' worth of food and supplies, and check on their neighbors and monitor local news coverage.

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