Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Forecasters: Michael quickly closing in on Category 3 hurricane

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas JUST IN: Tropical Storm Nadine forms, Michael wind speeds up to 110 mph
Ray Hunter | 10 October, 2018, 08:31

A major hurricane is a Category 5, 4 or 3 hurricane, which has winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

As the storm makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend area, it is expected to increase to near-Category-4 strength before weakening, the NHC said.

A tropical storm warning was issued from Fernandina Beach Florida to South Santee River South Carolina.

As the Panhandle braces for major Hurricane Michael, Tropical Storm Nadine has formed in the far eastern Atlantic.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye of Michael off the western tip of Cuba late Monday found wind speeds were rising even as forecasters warned the storm would reach major (Category 3) hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour.

At least 57,000 coastal homes, as well as high-rise condos and businesses, will be at risk from the landfall of Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Michael could produce three life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast. A hurricane warning was posted along more than 300 miles (483 km) of the coast from the Florida-Alabama border south to the Suwannee River.

Michael has been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it continues to move toward the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Michael will be first major hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

His opponent in Florida's Senate race, Senator Bill Nelson, said a "wall of water" could cause major destruction along the Panhandle. The worst storm surge is expected between Mexico Beach and Keaton Beach, where nine to 13 feet of inundation is possible, forecasters warned.

Hurricane Michael will make landfall along the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, most likely as a major storm. Needless to say, the storm will have serious consequences for Florida (and downstream states such as Georgia) during the remainder of this week.

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas
Tropical storm warning issued for Midlands ahead of Hurricane Michael | News & Observer

He said: "We don't know if it's going to wipe out our house or not".

"If they decide to stay, there will be a point where we can't get to them", Couch said.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT). Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend, southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia, while parts of the Carolinas - recently deluged by Hurricane Florence - and southern Virginia eventually could see up to 6 inches, the hurricane center said.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour.

Tolls were being suspended in the state's northwest region to ease the evacuation process, and the Florida Highway Patrol is sending almost 350 state troopers to the Panhandle and Big Bend areas, Scott said.

Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said there were just hours left until Michael's wind gusts and rain bands would start whipping the coast.

Michael will not stall; it will move along at a good pace.

Forecasters warned that Michael could ultimately dump a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.

Local authorities are stressing timely evacuation, too.

By Monday morning, generators were sold out in many area stores, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Some feared significant tree damage and power outages in Florida's capital city.

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