Evacuations ordered as Florida braces for Hurricane Michael

10 October, 2018, 20:00 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Waves crash along a pier as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Beach Florida

The National Weather Service, Tallahassee has deemed Michael "an unprecedented event" because "there are no Category 4 storms on record to have made landfall along the Florida Panhandle coast".

The "potentially catastrophic" storm has sustained winds of 145mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest update.

A storm surge of up to 13 feet (four meters) is expected in some areas, the center said.

Rainfall is expected to total 10 to 20 centimeters in parts of Florida, Alabama and Georgia during the next few days.

The boardwalk in the resort town of Destin was almost deserted on Tuesday, the shops and adjoining restaurants closed less than 24 hours before Hurricane Michael was set to slam into this stretch of Florida's Gulf Coast famous for its white beaches.

Waves crash against the Malecon, triggered by the outer bands of Hurricane Michael, as tourists drive past in a classic American auto in Havana, Cuba.

Palm trees are seen as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Beach Florida
Palm trees are seen as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Beach Florida

Hurricane Michael is primed to grow stronger and pummel the Florida coast.

Position: The hurricane was about 120 miles southwest of Panama City, Florida, as of 6 a.m. ET this morning, per CNN.

Among people who had fled their homes was Betty Early, 75, a retiree who joined about 300 fellow evacuees huddled on makeshift bed rolls of blankets and collapsed cardboard boxes at an elementary school serving as an American Red Cross shelter in Panama City, near the storm's expected landfall. She was unsure how well her old, wood-framed apartment block would hold up.

Residents in Florida and neighboring states have been told to leave their homes ahead of the devastating weather. "My greatest concern is not having electricity, and living on a fixed income, losing my food". Michael is forecast to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida's Panhandle in a decade. He declared a state of emergency in 35 counties.

Five drilling rigs have been moved out of the storm's path, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call. It will be only the fourth Category 4 storm to have hit the "panhandle" since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

The storm, which formed off the coast of northern Honduras, has already killed at least 13 people in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador after torrential rains triggered flash-flooding and landslides in Central America over the weekend.

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Gradual strengthening is forecast for the next few days , and the NHC says that Michael is forecast to become a hurricane soon. The only other storm now in the Atlantic Ocean is Tropical Storm Leslie, which has zig-zagged in intensity.


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