Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Hurricane Michael Takes Aim At North Florida While Strengthening Into Category 2

Get prepared now for Hurricane Michael Get prepared now for Hurricane Michael Dougherty County officials are preparing for Hurricane Michael
Theresa Hayes | 10 October, 2018, 06:39

Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area could see up to 3.7 metres of storm surge.

The Category 2 storm, which has already disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, strengthened as it headed north, carrying winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour).

"The FL panhandle needs to be prepared for a direct hit with sustained hurricane force winds", Scott wrote on Twitter on Monday. Storm surge is not much of a concern because forecasters expect the hurricane to move quickly across the state, Martin said. "The time to prepare is now". "That means the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses", Scott said.

Michael is expected to become a major hurricane by today or tonight, according to a Monday evening advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 per cent of daily US crude oil output and 5 per cent of daily natural gas output, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The forecast for Hurricane Michael changed little overnight with the National Hurricane Center having it make landfall between Fort Walton Beach and the Big Bend region tomorrow.

A hurricane warning was in effect for a more than 300-mile (480-km) stretch of coastline from the Florida-Alabama border to the Suwannee River in Florida.

The region should brace for "major infrastructure damage", specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call. Mandatory evacuations were under way in coastal areas, with 1,250 National Guard soldiers 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 also were 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.

"We are now under an emergency mandatory evacuation for Panama City Beach as of 6 a.m. this morning due to Hurricane Michael", management of the Holiday Inn Resort on Front Beach Road said on the hotel's Facebook page. Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.

Those who planned to stay emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies throughout the day on Monday.

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. In southeastern North Carolina, where residents are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, up to 4 inches of rain is forecast.

The speed of the storm barreling toward the Florida Panhandle - Michael was moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour (19 kph) - was among the hazards worrying forecasters at the National Hurricane Center on Tuesday morning.

A high risk of rip currents at Atlantic Coast beaches.

The storm is likely also to dump prodigious amounts of rain over Florida, Alabama and Georgia as well as the Carolinas, which are still reeling from severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The similarities between the two storms are striking - both with respect to where they developed and the dangers they presented to the Florida Gulf Coast.