Michael Now A Hurricane, Threatens Florida Panhandle

Olive Hawkins
October 9, 2018

The storm was moving north around 7 miles per hour (11 kph).

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued over the northeastern portion of Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula and the western portions of Cuba ahead of the storm.

The Florida Panhandle and Big Bend into southern Georgia are planning on seeing at least 4 to 8 inches of rain, with up to a foot of in some parts.

"It would be a tropical storm for us", Saavedra said.

Landfall is expected some time on Wednesday near Apalachicola and, by that time, Michael is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 (or major) hurricane.

Florida residents are bracing themselves for Hurricane Michael, which is expected to smash into the U.S. state in midweek, with winds of up to 129mph. It's forecast to move toward the Baja this week and eventually make landfall as a tropical storm by week's end.

On Sunday, Tallahassee opened two locations where residents could get sandbags in case of flooding. A couple breweries in the city offered free filtered water to anyone bringing in growlers, jugs or other containers.

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Rainfall could lead to flash flooding in Florida's panhandle and Big Bend regions, as well as in the Carolinas, through Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said. "We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life". After four days, hurricane experts say, the system should diminish and move off the mid-Atlantic coast.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but he said he would return to Tallahassee to help with storm preparations.

Locally, Manatee County Public Safety officials were not ready to declare a local state of emergency, but are in a "monitor and wait" pattern, director Bob Smith said during a news conference.

Meanwhile, authorities in the city of Pensacola tweeted: "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place". But it rapidly intensified, and its top winds clocked in at 60 miles per hour (95 kph) by late Sunday evening.

Michael is now centered about 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and is moving north. "Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area by Tuesday night or early Wednesday", the NHC added.

Michael was a Category 1 hurricane but could make landfall as a Category 3, and forecasters warned it could send down 10 to 30 centimetres of rain.

Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties as Tropical Storm Michael lashed Cuba and is forecast to become a hurricane later Monday as it churns toward the United States.

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