'Monstrous' hurricane Michael powering towards Florida

James Marshall
October 11, 2018

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast that Michael would become a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale before coming ashore on Wednesday midday over the Panhandle or the Big Bend area.

Scott has already declared a state of emergency in 35 counties, and the Florida National Guard has activated 1,250 troops for planning, logistics and emergency response. Accuweather predicted Michael's total damage and economic impact will reach close to $30 billion, which would make it one of the 10 costliest hurricanes in US history.

At 02:00 local time on Wednesday, the eye of Michael was about 170 miles south-west of the coastal city of Apalachicola.

Hurricane Michael has gained strength during its approach toward Florida's Gulf Shore and is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has suspended his Senate campaign due to the impending storm, warns that this hurricane is "going to be historic" and cause more destruction than the state's panhandle has seen in decades. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging winds and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

Rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimetres), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 metres). Those winds were tearing some buildings apart in Panama City Beach.

The hurricane center is already warning of storm surge up to 12 feet in some areas, plus heavy rainfall through Florida's Panhandle and into Alabama, Georgia and SC, and "tropical storm"-force winds".

Only a skeleton staff remained at Tyndall Air Force Base, situated on a peninsula just south of Panama City. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger, residents were urged to evacuate inland. But civilians don't have to follow orders, and authorities feared many failed to heed their calls to get out. "But in my experience, it's always blown way out of proportion".

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. "I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle", meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said. However, forecasters always note it is not possible to say where a hurricane will land until it is closer to the coast.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for.

Local officials are warning that not almost enough people have evacuated as they would wish.

"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. He pulled two docks from the water, packed his truck and picked some beans from his garden before getting out.

How many people have died?

"Today it is about life and safety, " Gillum said. "We want to get them out of the way".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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