- The latest forecast update from the National Hurricane Center has Michael set to come ashore around the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm as officials in North Carolina are preparing for soaking rains and gusty winds that could uproot trees and knock down power lines around the Triangle.
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. The hurricane warning stretches from Pensacola, Fla., eastward to near Cedar Key in the bend of Florida Panhandle.
Michael's maximum sustained winds increased to 90 miles per hour on Monday night, the National Hurricane Center reported in its 11 p.m. EST update.
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The storm was centered about 390 miles (627 kilometers) south of Apalachicola and 420 miles (675 kilometers) south of Panama City, Florida. It was moving north at 12 miles per hour.
"#Michael could produce three life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast: storm surge, heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds, with storm surge and hurricane watches in effect", the NHC said on Twitter. Some parts of Alabama are under tropical storm watches or warnings. "What you're going to do is push a whole bunch of water into this whole area which is very vulnerable to storm surge".
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The potential rainfall in the Mid-Atlantic and New England ranges from 2 to 4 inches, with higher amounts locally.
"Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends", the National Hurricane Center said of areas experiencing Category 3 winds.
Florida State University and Leon County schools plan to close Tuesday through Friday, and the Citrus County School District announced school would be closed Tuesday.
"Take this seriously and keep your family safe", Scott said from Bay County on Monday. Scott additionally activated 1,250 National Guardsmen and said he would waive tolls for residents heeding evacuation orders.
Another national, Neil Fung, said the storm looks like " a major one". Michael poses an extremely risky threat to parts of the Florida gulf coast. Nine people died in SC, officials said. "I'm happy with the progress we've made".
Environmental conditions are favorable "for at least steady intensification" through Tuesday night, the Hurricane Center said. Storm surge is likely to be catastrophic north of Crystal River north and west to the popular beach destination of Panama City.
In neighbouring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey signed an emergency declaration for her entire state Monday in anticipation of widespread power outages, wind damage and heavy rain from the storm getting set to cross the eastern Gulf of Mexico in coming hours.