January 19, 2019

Tropical storm Michael upgraded to hurricane in Gulf of Mexico

09 October 2018, 12:27 | Edward Lowe

Tropical storm Michael upgraded to hurricane in Gulf of Mexico

Tropical storm Michael upgraded to hurricane in Gulf of Mexico

Michael became a hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico this morning and is expected to strengthen before striking the Florida Panhandle, perhaps as a risky Category 2 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters say it could be a Category 2 hurricane or stronger by the time it makes landfall.

"Life-threatening storm surge is possible along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity", the center said. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

But it rapidly intensified, and its top winds clocked in at 60 miles per hour by late Sunday evening.

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move northeast on Wednesday and Thursday along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. The fast developing storm is now a Category 1 hurricane expected to strengthen as it nears Florida.

Not only is the coastline in danger, so are inland areas of Florida, Alabama and Georgia, forecasters warn. Meanwhile hurricane watches are already in effect for the gulf coast from the Alabama-Florida border all the way to the Suwannee River in Dixie County, Florida. Hurricane watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area.

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The Suncoast is at the very southern edge of the impacts expected from Hurricane Michael as it lifts north.

More information on the specific impacts of Hurricane Michael will be available as the storm gets closer to Horry.

It is rare but certainly not unheard of for major hurricanes to strike the United States in October-after all, the season does not end until November 30. 'This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe, ' Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center.

Around 500 members of the Florida National Guard have been scrambled into duty.

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.

"This is a part of the Gulf of Mexico that is incredibly vulnerable to storm surge", Graham said.

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In the Caribbean, a hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

FSU said it is prepared to handle students' needs during the storm and that campus residence halls and dining facilities will remain open.

"If we get some additional rainfall on Wednesday, then when the heavier stuff gets here with the hurricane on Thursday and Friday, that would cause some flooding", Panovich warned.

It's now forecast to have winds of 120 miles per hour as it approaches Florida's northern Gulf Coast by Wednesday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected across the remainder of the warning areas in Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula later today. The rains in Cuba's west were expected to begin Sunday night and continue Monday.

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