Michael now a major hurricane headed for Florida Panhandle

Rosemary Collier
October 10, 2018

The NHC said in a tweet that a "life-threatening" storm surge and flash flooding was likely in areas of the Florida Panhandle and described the storm as "dangerous".

Hurricane Michael is poised to slam Florida's Panhandle by Wednesday afternoon, threatening unsafe storm surges to low-lying areas ill-equipped to handle them - and officials are urging people to get out of the way now. Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said anywhere from Panama City to Cedar Key, Florida could see significant storm surge from Hurricane Michael.

On its current track, Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico throughout Tuesday and then move inland over the Panhandle or Big Bend area of Florida on Wednesday, according to the hurricane center.

He added it is predicted to be "the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades".

A hurricane warning has been issued for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio and tropical storm warnings are in effect for the Cuban province of Isle of Youth and the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

Although the risk is lower, there will be some severe storms with possible tornadoes for the rest of us. Lines at gasoline stations were growing as people prepared to leave.

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"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.

Offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated workers, halting almost a fifth of daily production. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.

Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, opened two locations on Sunday where residents could get sandbags to prepare for flooding.

A hurricane warning was issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to Suwannee River.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had numerous teams deployed and ready to respond, said FEMA spokesman Jeff Byard.

Many are located in the coastal town of Port St. Joe, the county's largest municipality, lying directly in the hurricane's projected path, she said. Levy County has closed its schools through Thursday; Florida State University, in Tallahassee, has closed as well. Those who planned to stay emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies throughout the day on Monday. The Florida national guard has over 4,000 more guard members available for deployment, according to Scott.

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"If they decide to stay, there will be a point where we can't get to them", Couch said.

Hurricane Michael, now a Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, is expected to build to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday.

At least 13 people have died in Central America due to the storm.

Hurricane Michael, now churning in the Gulf of Mexico with winds up to 100 miles per hour, is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it arrives in North Carolina starting late Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend on Wednesday before crossing Georgia and the Carolinas as a weaker storm.

Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen for hurricane duty.

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