Michael almost a hurricane moving north into the Gulf Michael continues to show signs of strengthening Monday morning
10 October, 2018, 17:42
Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday or Tuesday night.Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).The estimated minimum central pressure based on Air Force Reserve reconnaissance data is 982 mb (29.00 inches).HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND -- STORM SURGE: The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.
Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane, the term for storms reaching Category 3 and higher, with winds topping 111 miles per hour by Tuesday night before an expected strike Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Gov. Kay Ivey set the declaration into effect at 3 p.m. on Monday in anticipation of "widespread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds & heavy rain".
The governor noted that while state officials are prepared for the storm, she said "now is the time for residents in south Alabama to review your emergency preparedness plans and also get prepared" - warning that those in Michael's path "will need to take shelter by [Tuesday] evening".
Past year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Hurricane Harvey - causing a record-equalling $125bn in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas.
With Hurricane Michael churning Monday toward the northeast Gulf Coast, forecasts for Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley region indicate tropical storm conditions are possible, including heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms.
Producers in the US Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday cut oil production by about 40 per cent and natural gas output by 28 per cent as Michael approached the coast, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said, citing reports from 27 companies. Swells are expected to begin affecting the coast of the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico during the next day or so. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.
Forecasters said parts of the Panhandle and Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see 9 to 13 feet (2.7 to 4 meters) of storm surge.
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Okaloosa County also has three sandbag locations open to the public at 1759 South Ferdon Blvd.in Crestview, 84 Ready Road NW in Fort Walton Beach and at The City of Destin Public Works office on Commons Drive in Destin.
Less than 24 hours later, on Monday, Micheal became a Category 1 hurricane. Lines at gasoline stations grew as people left. Those who stayed emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies.
Florida State University said its campuses in Tallahassee and Panama City will be closed from Tuesday to Friday.
"The satellite presentation of Michael has continued to improve overnight and this morning, with the center well embedded within an area of cold cloud tops".
The core of the storm was expected to crash ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.
The last major hurricane to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane centre data.
There is a risk for tornadoes in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to Suwannee River in Florida.
Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.
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