'Life-threatening' storm surge expected as Hurricane Michael approaches Florida
10 October, 2018, 09:52 | Author: Chad Warren
An estimated 120,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were ordered to clear out on Tuesday as Hurricane Michael rapidly picked up steam in the Gulf of Mexico and closed in with winds of 110 miles per hour and a potential storm surge of 12 feet.
The storm has already caused damage in Mexico and Cuba.
Tropical storm warnings are posted from the Alabama/Florida border westward to Alabama's border with MS, as well as from Suwannee River, Florida, to Chassahowitzka, Florida.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle.
The heaviest rain will tend to fall in areas that were missed by Florence and focused from the Florida Panhandle to southwestern and central Georgia to part of central SC.
Unlike Florence, which ravaged the eastern Carolinas only three weeks ago, Michael is expected to move rapidly once it bores inland to Georgia and SC.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio and tropical storm warnings are in effect for the Cuban province of Isle of Youth and the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger, residents were urged to evacuate inland.
Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see up to 12 feet of storm surge.
Volusia County Beach Safety secured non-essential equipment off of the beach due to the predicted wind and swell, said spokeswoman Captain Tamara Malphurs.
"We can take quite a bit of rain, but the folks in the Carolinas can't right now", Orrock said.
US Rep. Neal Dunn, whose district includes Panama City, urged people under evacuation orders to get out before tropical-storm-force winds arrived. Michael is now about 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and is expected to make landfall along the Florida panhandle this week.
Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday.
The state capital of Florida, Tallahassee, is set to be one of the worst-hit areas when the storm makes landfall on Wednesday. Local authorities fear power outages and major tree damage from Michael. Many filled sandbags and boarded up homes and lined up to buy gas and groceries before leaving town.
Hurricane warnings are in effect from the Alabama/Florida state line to the Suwanee River along Florida's Big Bend.
In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour.
Other locations in the state are under voluntary evacuation.
Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in Wakulla, Gulf and Bay counties.
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties. It also shows additional moisture before the storm arrives. Florida homeowners have bought about one-third of the 5 million flood insurance policies issued by the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program.
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It would then be given the name Michael - becoming the 13th named storm of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The depression is expected to turn north later on Sunday and continue in that direction through Wednesday.