Emergency orders in Florida as ‘monstrous storm’ nears

An are of low pressure in the far western Caribbean is expected to develop into a tropical depression or even a tropical storm on Sunday. Michaels is the next name up. The storm could threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday

An are of low pressure in the far western Caribbean is expected to develop into a tropical depression or even a tropical storm on Sunday. Michaels is the next name up. The storm could threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday

Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye of Michael off the west tip of Cuba late Monday found wind speeds were rising even as forecasters warned the storm could reach major hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour (179 kph) by Tuesday night. Forecasters say Michael will then pass over some parts of the U.S. East Coast that are still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

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.

Michael has quickly gained strength since the National Weather Service issued its first bulletin on the system Saturday.

"Michael is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next couple of days", it said.

Heavy rains and flash-flooding over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America after Michael formed off the coast of northern Honduras.

Michael is the seventh hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. Ann Beaver was among the three-quarters of city residents who lost power after that storm.

"It's kind of got us all on edge right now", Rachel Burke, general manger of Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar on Panama City Beach, said Monday afternoon.

Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said the storm's large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida's Gulf coast that has a lot of rivers and estuaries where seawater being pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped.

Rick Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties to rush preparations, freeing up resources and activating 500 members of the Florida National Guard.

He also warned caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all possible to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.

US Gulf Coast bracing for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael
ET Monday, Tropical Storm Michael was centered about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said . Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency covering 92 counties - almost the entire lower two-thirds of his state.

A storm surge warning - meaning unsafe flooding could strike in the next 36 hours - is in effect for a long swath of Florida's coast, from the Okaloosa-Walton county line east of Pensacola to the Anclote River, just north of Tampa Bay.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".

"You've got to take care of yourself", said Scott, sporting his faded Navy baseball cap that has become a hallmark of his past emergency attire, after a briefing at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in Southport.

In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents are frantically preparing for a major hurricane strike that could be unlike any seen there in decades.

High winds weren't the only danger.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said his deputies had gone door to door in some places along the coast to urge people to evacuate. "Tropical storm conditions are expected across the remainder of the warning areas in Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula through tonight", the center said.

High winds weren't the only danger.

Parts of Florida's curvy Big Bend could see up to 12 feet (3.5 meters) of storm surge, while Michael also could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities as it moves inland, forecasters said.

Neighbors in Alabama - the entire state is under an emergency declaration - also were bracing.

The forecast indicates Michael may be a Category 3 hurricane - with winds from 111 to 129 miles per hour - when it strikes. Local authorities fear power outages and major tree damage from Michael. USA producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 percent and natural gas output by 28 percent on Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. "We don't know. And we don't know exactly where it's going to hit yet".

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