Hurricane Michael as seen from the International Space Station

James Marshall
October 15, 2018

The hurricane was forecast to make landfall Wednesday afternoon near Panama City as a Category 3 storm.

McNoldy said a key factor was that the water was 4 to 5 degrees warmer than normal, giving the hurricane extra fuel.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the storm, which local forecasters are calling an "unprecedented" weather event for the area, is expected to slam ashore later in the day with "life-threatening" storm surges.

Authorities say a Florida Panhandle man was killed by a falling tree as Hurricane Michael tore through the state.

An estimated 375,000 people in more than 20 counties were ordered or advised to evacuate.

Michael is a fast moving storm and will impact South Carolina Thursday afternoon and move into North Carolina Thursday evening. Tropical-storm force winds, extending 185 miles from the center, were already lashing the coast, and hurricane-force winds reached out 45 miles from the center.

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

The region will also be at risk of severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes during the storm.

"The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone", Scott said in a Tweet. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

"You will see damage to infrastructure". They include Florence and Tropical Storm Gordon, which made landfall on the Alabama-Mississippi border last month.

The brute storm that sprang from a weekend tropical depression gained in fury and size just hours ahead of Wednesday's projected midday landfall, packed 125 mph (200 kph) winds as a risky Category 3 storm.

"This is a life-threatening situation".

Anticipating the storm's arrival, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Wednesday for 66 counties in North Carolina expected to receive both rain and wind from Michael. He focused on islands off the coast whose bridges may close as the storm approaches.

"We have done everything we can as far as getting the word out", he said. "And then you're riding it out in your vehicle instead of something else".

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

The National Hurricane Center also reports that life-threatening flash flooding may occur from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of Georgia and SC.

The hurricane forced Benny and Cindy Guinn to get married a day earlier.

Damage in Panama City was extensive, with broken and uprooted trees and power lines down almost everywhere.

"I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when we've called for the evacuation of 75 percent of this county", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said Tuesday.

With an officiant standing in front of them, the couple said their vows on the beach as brisk winds brushed them. It also set off transformer explosions and knocked out power to more than 388,000 homes and businesses.

Cars were in long lines at one of the town's gas stations Tuesday.

"Since 6:00 am it´s been backed up. We're just now running out of regular (gas)", worker Danny Hess told CNN affiliate WJHG.

In a Facebook post this morning, the city of Wilson warned Wilson Energy customers that high winds Thursday and into Friday could cause power outages. Dothan, Ala. -based Flowers Hospital announced the closure of all of its outpatient departments and Flowers Medical Group offices October 10, but expects to resume normal operations October 11, according to WDHN News. It is expected to weaken as it moves up into the southeastern United States.

Disaster agencies in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua reported 13 deaths as roofs collapsed and residents were carried away by swollen rivers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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