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Gathering strength, Hurricane Michael heads for Florida
11 October 2018, 09:45 | Edward Lowe
As a result, the northeastern Gulf Coast is undergoing mandatory evacuations - that includes the Florida Panhandle (stretching into Big Bend) as well as parts of southeast Alabama and southern Georgia.
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.
Currently, Michael is located 295 miles south of Panama City, Florida, and 270 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida.
The Florida Disaster website on October 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders.
The region should brace for "major infrastructure damage", specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call. "We haven't seen anything like this in the Panhandle in decades".
The Gulf of Mexico produces 17 percent of daily US crude oil output and 5 percent of daily natural gas output, according to the US Energy Information Administration. About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were assisting and more than 4,000 troops were on standby.
In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week. Those who stayed emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies.
"Impacts from Hurricane Michael along the Florida Panhandle will include a unsafe storm surge, flooding rainfall and damaging winds". This would be one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfall on the Florida panhandle.
Some Panama City residents were seen on the beach enjoying the cool breeze ahead of the storm, while others were loading up cars with luggage and visitors were checking out of hotels.
The storm is now moving north, crossing into the Gulf of Mexico, and will likely curve to the east after its coastal impact.
Hurricane Michael weakens further as it crosses Georgia
Carlo Allegri / Reuters Waves wash over a house as Hurricane Michael comes ashore in Alligator Point, Florida , on October 10. Hurricane Michael has killed one person in northern Florida - the first confirmed death from the powerful storm.
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