Florida braces for lethal floods as hurricane nears

Hurricane Michael European model

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect Tuesday morning for some 120,000 people in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the coast as Hurricane Michael approaches.

As of 8 a.m. EDT, Michael was moving north-northwest at 12 mph and positioned about 365 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, warned on Tuesday that warm waters will probably further strengthen Michael before it makes landfall.

Forecasters said Michael could cause a storm surge of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) above normal sea water levels in Florida.

Authorities told tens of thousands of residents and tourists in at least 20 Florida counties to evacuate coastal areas along the 200-mile (322 km) long Panhandle and Big Bend region. He said Tuesday that he doesn't expect he'll get resupplied soon, because stations nearer to interstate highways will get priority.

A hurricane warning was issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to Suwannee River.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that Michael isn't expected to hit his state as hard as Florence did last month, but people shouldn't let their guard down, even if they're suffering from cleanup fatigue.

Hurricane Michael is poised to slam Florida's Panhandle by Wednesday afternoon, threatening unsafe storm surges to low-lying areas ill-equipped to handle them - and officials are urging people to get out of the way now.

While Florence took five days between the time it turned into a hurricane and the moment it rolled into the Carolinas, Michael gave Florida what amounted to two days' notice. The storm was located about 395 miles south of Panama City and had picked up speed to 12 mph. "Residents and businesses in coastal Alabama must be vigilant and closely monitor the storm's path and be prepared for a major hurricane".

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Michael underwent a period of "rapid intensification" from mid-day Sunday to mid-day Monday, growing from a tropical storm with sustained winds of 40 miles per hour to a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. Needless to say, the storm will have serious consequences for Florida (and downstream states such as Georgia) during the remainder of this week.

While the center of Michael is forecast to stay west of Tampa Bay, our winds and rain chances will increase tonight through Thursday. Hurricane conditions will also spread well inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia.

Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Hurricane Michael was forecast to become a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour when it makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle. "It looked a couple of days ago like it was not going to be much, and now it's looking like it could be a very big one, so we're prepared".

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post.

Hurricane Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed. This is in contrast to recent major storms, such as Harvey in 2017 and Florence in 2018, which made landfall in the United States and then stalled out.

"It is a monstrous storm and the forecast (keeps) getting more unsafe", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency declaration for 92 counties in the state.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and make other preparations.

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