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

Christopher Davidson
October 10, 2018

Energy companies on Monday halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated staff from 13 platforms as Hurricane Michael intensified and headed for a path up the eastern U.S. Gulf.

Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency in Alabama as Hurricane Michael takes aim at Gulf coast.

The National Hurricane Center, citing Michael's risky trifecta of storm surge, flash flooding and winds, described the seventh hurricane of the Atlantic season as "life-threatening", and the Florida Division of Emergency Management warned on Twitter of the storm's "rapid intensification" ahead of landfall.

As Hurricane Michael continues to churn it's way toward the Florida Panhandle Tuesday (10/9) tens of thousands of people potentially in harm's way have been ordered to heed warnings of possible severe coastal flooding.

The evacuation orders went into effect Tuesday morning for some 120,000 people near the beach and other areas of Bay County.

Winds of 50 to 70 miles per hour will be felt in parts of the Carolinas as early as 8 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday.

"Damaging winds will also extend inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland", the hurricane center cautioned.

He said: "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".

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum says the rapid rise of Hurricane Michael led city officials to hold a "sobering" discussion about the potential impact the storm will have on the area. Tropical storm watches are in effect in some coastal areas of Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and SC.

The expected path for Hurricane Michael as of October 9, 2018.

"Guess what? That's today", Graham said. Forecasters said tornadoes could be spun off by the storm, and 3 to 6 inches of rain could cause flash floods as it barrels over a corner of the country still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

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Hess Corp and Royal Dutch Shell said they were monitoring the storm and would take action as needed.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane - in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific - or a typhoon in the Western Pacific.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

Mandatory evacuations are under way in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the Florida Panhandle as Hurricane Michael approaches.

Gov. Rick Scott issued a State of Emergency Sunday for 26 counties in anticipation for the storm.

Michael is also predicted to be the strongest hurricane based on wind speed to hit continental United States landfall this year.

Storm surge warnings stretched from just north of Tampa to Walton County, west of Panama City.

"You will see damage to infrastructure, you will see power outages, and services that we are used to will be interrupted due to Hurricane Michael", he said.

"I've been talking to mayors, to county commissioners, I think people are taking this serious", Scott said. Voluntary evacuations were ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties. Exxon said it did not expect the staff reduction to affect output. The storm is expected to strengthen further and hit reach the coast with Category 3 winds.

The agency says erosion could be even worse in about a fourth of the Panhandle's white-sand beaches, particularly areas east of the eye, as a storm surge on top of high surf could see waves as high as 16 to 20 feet washing over the top of the protective dune line.

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