Michael Upgraded To Category 3 'Major' Hurricane As It Approaches Florida Panhandle

Olive Hawkins
October 11, 2018

Michael roared down on the Florida Panhandle strengthening into a Category 4 hurricane early Wednesday before it crashes against the region's white-sand beaches, fishing villages and coastal communities later in the day.

The National Hurricane Center says Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane at approximately 2 p.m., pushing a deadly storm surge and whipping the coast with 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds.

The last major hurricane - Category 3 or above - to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis, which made landfall near Pensacola in 2005, according to hurricane centre data.

Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a category 3 storm Tuesday evening, on track to hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as the most powerful hurricane to hit the mainland US this year, The New York Times reported.

"I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when we've called for the evacuation of 75 per cent of this county", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said.

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area along the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by tonight or early Wednesday.

The last NHC report said the fast-moving storm was about 180 miles (325 km) from Panama City, Florida.

The speed of the storm - Michael was moving north at 12 miles per hour - gave many people a dwindling window of time to prepare or flee before the arrival of damaging wind, rain, and flooding. The center of Michael's eye is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

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Hurricane Warning:A hurricane warning is in effect for the Alabama/Florida Border to the Suwannee River. "This might be really bad and serious".

In Apalachicola, population 2,500, some resolved to stay put. "But in my experience, it's always blown way out of proportion".

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect on Tuesday morning (Wednesday NZT) for some 120,000 people in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the coast.

Forecasters say the center of Michael will continue to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning.

With a number of counties ordering evacuations, Scott waived highway tolls in the northwest part of the state. This will likely cause flash flooding.

Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 Florida counties, mostly encompassing rural areas known for small tourist cities, beaches, wildlife reserves and Tallahassee, the state capital.

After Hurricane Irma past year, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

Forecasters in Alabama warned of possible tornados. "Take care of them", he said.

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