Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Research | By Dana Schwartz

Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 4 storm, considered 'extremely dangerous'

Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 4 storm, considered 'extremely dangerous'

Michael is forecast to reach the Panhandle as a major Category 3 hurricane on Wednesday with 125 miles per hour winds.

"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades", Gov. Rick Scott said.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said Sunday US time after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Centre.

"Remember during a storm, first responders can not come out and save you in the middle of a storm".

As of 2 p.m. EDT, Michael was moving north at 12 mph, about 310 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.

He has also activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those near the coast to evacuate inland.

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In Volusia County, emergency management director Jim Judge said residents are looking at "breezy conditions, some rain and potentially a couple of good gusts through the squalls". Because he owns two businesses in the area, Givens, who lives inland, said he was not evacuating.

Then, as the storm crosses over the Southeast U.S. on Wednesday evening and Thursday, it will weaken.

"#Michael could be one of the worst hurricanes to ever strike the Florida Big Bend/Florida Panhandle region", he warned. "It's forecast to be a large and risky hurricane at landfall".

Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

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"It looks like what we are planning for Wednesday is tropical storm-force winds of 39 to 57 miles per hour", said Jonathan Lord, Flagler County's emergency services chief.

In neighbouring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.

Even neighbors in Alabama were bracing.

Interested in Hurricane Michael?

Once it reaches land, Michael is forecast to weaken into a tropical storm when it passes through the East Coast, including the New York City area, by Friday morning.

The NHC warned that both could trigger deadly flooding and that residents within the hurricane warning zone should also "prepare for life-threatening winds".

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post.

Residents of Florida's Panhandle frantically filled sandbags, boarded up homes and secured boats Monday as they anxiously awaited Hurricane Michael, which forecasters warned could smash into the state's Gulf Coast as a risky major hurricane within days.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and get their storm preparations completed. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path. "They are their best first responders". A hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, and tropical storm watches have been issued from the Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island and from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. That's actually an encouraging total compared to the weather agency's $60 billion damage estimate from Florence. Isolated areas could get 12 inches with the threat of life-threatening flash floods and storm surge.

"We expect less rain to fall when compared to Florence", said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

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