Hurricane Michael strengthens into Category 2 storm with 100 miles per hour winds

Carlton Robbins
October 10, 2018

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Michael was about 360 miles south of Panama City, moving north-northwestward at 12 mph. The Category 1 storm was moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Once it reaches land, Michael is forecast to weaken into a tropical storm when it passes through the East Coast, including the New York City area, by Friday morning.

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. "We're going to get storm surge, we have wind, we have a chance of flooding, we have a significant chance of tornadoes".

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.

Michael was lashing western Cuba on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds.

Now, battling wind shear but emerging in the Gulf of Mexico, it's a strengthening hurricane, with winds up to 110 miles per hour as of 11 a.m. Tuesday. Residents in these areas should follow all advice given by their local officials. Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday or Tuesday night.

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

In Carrabelle, Florida, resident Cole Lauzau said she is planning to try riding out the storm at home with her roommate and their dog.

The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month.

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Evacuations have been ordered in parts of 10 counties.

Scott said the Florida Panhandle, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia will see 4 to 8 inches, with isolated areas facing 12 inches. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (282 kilometers).

A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and make other preparations.

"For those considering evacuation, I can't stress strongly enough the importance of leaving as early as possible", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said on Facebook.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency declaration for 92 counties in the state.

AccuWeather chief Joel Myers said Michael is forecast to roll through the region much more quickly than did the lingering Florence, which dumped up to 40 inches of rain in some areas.

Even neighbors in Alabama were bracing.

"#Michael could produce three life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast: storm surge, heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds, with storm surge and hurricane watches in effect", the NHC said on Twitter.

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