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Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 3 as it menaces Florida
10 October 2018, 07:46 | Erica Roy
JUST IN: Tropical Storm Nadine forms, Michael wind speeds up to 110 mph
Hurricane Michael, which forecasters expect to make landfall around Panama City on Wednesday, has forced mandatory evacuation orders for coastal or low-lying areas for almost a dozen counties as of Tuesday, according to the state emergency website: Bay, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Taylor, Wakulla and Walton. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties.
Once Michael moves northeast out of Florida and into Georgia, the current track (as of 2 p.m.) takes the storm northeast into southwest Georgia over Albany and east of Macon and Warner Robins, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Michael is projected to plow into Florida's Panhandle at midday on Wednesday, unleashing potentially devastating waves as high as 13 feet (4 meters) that could rush inland for miles around the storm's center, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.
"Let me be clear, Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during a media conference Tuesday morning.
Interested in Hurricane Michael? "Hopefully we will have no one hurt and no loss of life", Ziffer added.
A map posted by the hurricane center Tuesday continues to show the Columbus area with as much as a 70 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm winds from Michael, which would be at least 39 miles per hour. A hurricane warning is in effect for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Further explaining, "A fast-moving storm mitigates the possibility of high rainfall totals that would be caused by a slow-moving or stalled storm".
The 11 a.m. advisory for Hurricane Michael shows it is up to a 110-mph Category 2 hurricane - one mile below a Category 3.
Several US Gulf Coast counties have issued curfews ahead of Michael's arrival. "What you're going to do is push a whole bunch of water into this whole area which is very vulnerable to storm surge".
The storm is expected to undergo rapid intensification again Tuesday.
As rains from the powerful storm started to reach the Panhandle on Tuesday afternoon, about 15,000 workers lined up by Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light and public utilities have been positioned to respond to anticipated widespread outages.
"Think about what we've seen before with storms like Hurricane Irma", he said.
"I know people are worn out from Florence, but don't let this storm catch you with your guard down", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, adding, "A number of homes have rooftop tarps that could be damaged or blown away with this wind".
Michael also could dump up to a foot of rain over some Panhandle communities before it sweeps into Georgia.
The system, which would be named Nadine, if it becomes a tropical storm, is no threat to land.
By Tuesday, Michael was already causing major disruptions to U.S. oil and gas production as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico.
"The state Emergency Response Team has been holding regular calls with the fuel industry and ports in Florida to ensure they can get gas to the area safely", Scott said.
"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post.
When asked if Maul remained concerned about local efforts Tuesday afternoon, Division of Emergency Management spokesman Alberto Moscoso said: "Director Maul will continue to stress the need for urgency from county officials who are in charge of evacuations and sheltering operations".
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