Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Science | By

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

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

At least 120,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were ordered to clear out Tuesday as Hurricane Michael rapidly picked up steam in the Gulf of Mexico and closed in with winds of 110 miles per hour (175 kph) and a potential storm surge of 12 feet (3.7 meters).

Weather models showed 3 to 6 inches of rain possible across the eastern Midlands area with locally higher amounts, according to the weather service.

The Orlando area will get plenty of rain and windy conditions, however.

Rain chances stand at 60 percent in Orlando on Tuesday and Wednesday before jumping to 70 percent on Thursday. Michael is forecast to retain at least tropical storm strength as it crosses Georgia and the Carolinas, so Michael's overall wind swath could be broad.

"It's a big storm", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Monday night during a press conference at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center near Pensacola.

Mr Scott warned the residents of his state not to be complacent.

Thousands of dead fish were cleared from North Carolina's Interstate 40, with a 20-foot whale reportedly washed ashore as Florida braces for similar chaotic scenes.

North Carolina and SC will likely see heavy rainfall, which could cause flooding in areas already damaged by last month's Hurricane Florence.

Of the elderly and infirm patients, Scott had a blunt message for their caregivers: "If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".

In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents are frantically preparing for a major hurricane strike that could be unlike any there in decades.

Residents of the U.S. state of Florida are boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from Hurricane Michael, forecast to slam ashore midweek with life-threatening waves, winds and rains.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in coastal and low-lying areas along the Panhandle, including at least four counties and parts of Panama City.

The earliest reasonable time the winds could arrive in the southern part of the United States is around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the hurricane center. The county has opened two sandbag locations for residents.

The sheriff's office says Michael "has the potential to be a historic storm - please take heed".

After it makes landfall in the Panhandle or Big Bend, the storm is expected to head northeast across Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from widespread flood damage from a slow-moving Hurricane Florence last month.

The neighbouring state of Alabama has declared a state of emergency.

In Alabama, where residents may see massive power outages, high winds and heavy rain, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency statewide.

As of 11 a.m., Nadine was about 3,500 miles from South Florida and posed no immediate threat to land. A storm needs to sustain 39 miles per hour winds to be classified as a tropical storm.

Even political campaigning took a back seat for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, who instead helped residents fill sandbags. He added, "Today it is about life and safety". "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

"We are already seeing the impacts of Michael here in Central Florida with on and off rain throughout the day", Bridges said.

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

The hurricane is expected to be the most powerful storm to strike the southern USA state's panhandle in at least a decade.

"We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life", Scott said.

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