Friday, 19 October, 2018

Florida Panhandle pummeled by record-breaking Hurricane Michael

Michael strengthens into Category 4 | News 'Worst on record': Hurricane Michael slams Florida with winds up to 250kmh
Elijah Vega | 11 October, 2018, 14:43

With maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a strong Category 4 storm near Panama City, Florida.

After carving an agonizing path of destruction across the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and southeastern Alabama for almost 10 hours, Hurricane Michael finally slowed to a tropical storm at midnight and continued to weaken early Thursday.

Hurricane Michael weakened to a Category 1 storm late Wednesday as it moved across south-central Georgia with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

Warm water is like jet fuel for hurricanes, and a combination of balmy conditions in the Gulf of Mexico, a lack of disturbance from wind shear and rapid intensification near the coast turned Michael into a historic storm, according to hurricane experts. Georgia is expected to be hit by damaging winds and downed power lines.

Characterized by strong winds and heavy rainfall, the hurricane of 1930 caused severe damage to the Dominican Republic.

It was heading north-northeast at 14 miles per hour (22 kph) with maximum sustained winds down to 150 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.

It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida.

"Lake City dodged a huge one here", Reynolds said.

Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said early evacuation efforts in the area were slow.

Shredded trees, derailed train cars and a sunken trailer are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018.

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Roads were flooded, trees uprooted and homes were destroyed after the "monstrous" storm ploughed into Mexico Beach at just before 2pm local time and swept across the state. More than 1,000 state forestry and wildlife officers were prepared for search-and-rescue operations, Scott said.

"It feels like you don't know when the next tree is going to fall on top of you because its blowing so ferociously", said Port St. Joe Mayor Bo Patterson. It's very, very scary.

The storm continued on its destructive path, bringing heavy rains and tearing down trees.

Corelogic noted the compact nature of hurricane Michael, which will have limited the size of the swathe of damage on landfall, but the storm surge has impacted a wide area from Mobile, AL to Tampa, FL, with the maximum storm surge anticipated to be east of Panama City to coastal cities south of Tallahassee, the firm said.

Only the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys (892 millibars) and Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 (900 millibars) were more intense.

"Satellite images of Michael's evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-dropping", wrote meteorologist Bob Henson.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland, behind the unnamed Labour Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

600: The number of Florida state troopers assigned to response and recovery efforts throughout the storm.

Scott spoke Wednesday morning with Trump, who signed a pre-landfall emergency declaration Tuesday ensuring that federal resources would be available before and after the storm in the 35 counties where the governor declared a state of emergency. The lead-grey water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

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