NOAA Says It’s Category 3 With 120 Mph Winds, Storm Surge

NOAA Says It’s Category 3 With 120 Mph Winds, Storm Surge

In Gulf County alone, the first to begin ordering residents of low-lying areas to higher ground, mandatory evacuation notices encompassed an estimated 3,800 homes, said Jessica Sasich of the county's emergency operations centre.

The National Hurricane Center says Michael is located about 730 kilometers south of the popular resort town of Panama City, carrying maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers an hour, making it a Category 1 storm on the five-level scale that measures a storm's potential destructive power.

Storm surge from Hurricane Michael is forecast to be higher than 9 feet and up to 12 feet in some areas of the Big Bend region of Florida. But despite that, Michael has the potential to become a major hurricane, possibly a Category 3.

From left, Haskel Johnson, Daniel Tippett, Jennifer Tippett and Nobuko Johnson filled sandbags at the Lynn Haven Sports Complex in Lynn Haven, Fla., Monday, to prepare for Hurricane Michael. "We can rebuild your house, but we cannot rebuild your life".

"Based on Hurricane Michael's current forecast track, we project that we could experience or customers could experience between 100,000 to 200,000 power outages in the northern part of our service territory up there in the Florida Panhandle", said Peveeta Persaud, a spokesperson for the company.

Michael was forecast to have the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday. The storm was centered about 365 miles south of Apalachicola and 395 miles south of Panama City, Florida. A storm surge watch is in effect for the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, and for the Alabama-Florida border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line. "If it doesn't reach Category 3 but has 110 miles per hour winds, it's still going to be a bad storm". Michael was now a category one hurricane. The Florida National Guard has over 4,000 more Guard members available for deployment, Scott said.

Now ranked as a category-1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a category-3 storm, with the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday.

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency in Alabama as Hurricane Michael takes aim at Gulf coast. The storm's center is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area before moving northeastward across the Southeastern U.S. Residents also lined up to buy gas and groceries even as evacuations - both voluntary and mandatory - were expected to pick up the pace Tuesday.

After it makes landfall, the storm is predicted to pass into Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency covering 92 counties - almost the entire lower two-thirds of his state. A separate map shows Columbus could see rain totals between 2 and 3 inches from the storm. "DO NOT ignore warnings from local officials- this storm could kill you".

The hurricane, now off Cuba's western tip, is expected to make landfall on the Florida panhandle and affect portions of southern Alabama.

"The state Emergency Response Team has been holding regular calls with the fuel industry and ports in Florida to ensure they can get gas to the area safely", Scott said.

"I just got a crew that came in that are staying also and they're in here helping me get everything buttoned up, tightened down, getting the food secure", Givens said.

The storm has already caused damage in Mexico and Cuba. "The state is not taking this storm lightly and neither should any family".

Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his warnings Monday evening during a news conference in Escambia County, encouraging residents along the coast to follow any evacuations orders as soon as possible.

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