Hurricane Michael grows stronger on way to Florida

Pine Island on Hernando County’s coast was free from any flooding early on Oct. 10 2018 as Hurricane Michael was poised to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle later in the day

Hurricane Michael's Winds Reach 150 mph, First Ever Extreme Wind Warning Issued for Region |

And at that point, forecasters expect Michael to strengthen again over open water.

Then the storm hit, blasting homes with high winds and heavy rains.

The 11:30 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Michael has sustained winds of 150 miles per hour.

Pensacola-based Gulf Power, which reported some 120,000 customers were in the dark at one point, said progress was made in its westernmost regions, but the hardest-hit areas may take weeks to rebuild.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in.

The massive storm hit the Panhandle early Wednesday afternoon, leaving a trail of devastation.

Michael could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days.

President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency. But "we have to make sure things are safe". "It looks like another big one".

Terrifying storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m) could also crash along the Florida Panhandle.

The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before. "You just don't know when the next one is going down".

The governor is going to Panama City and Mexico Beach to "survey damage" later today. Boats once docked in the canal have been pushed far up onto the land, and much of what would normally be on land floats in the canal.

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"He is committed to making every federal resource available to help the recovery", Scott said. Thousands of people hunkered down in shelters overnight after fleeing their homes ahead of the storm.

With a number of counties ordering evacuations, Scott waived highway tolls in the northwest part of the state.

They said it's still not clear how many people stayed put and would need to be rescued. But by Wednesday morning, it was too late to evacuate.

"Storm surge is the No. 1 problem that you can see from these storms".

Seminole County is "pitch black", in "complete and total devastation", Travis Brooks, director of Seminole County's Emergency Management Agency told ABC News.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said a hurricane "of this strength has NEVER made landfall in this region and thus this is an event that will have unprecedented impacts".

Similar issues were arising at nursing homes, and crews were flying in supplies to Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee, which serves patients with mental illness. The hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm. The city could face hurricane-force winds of up to 100 miles per hour - enough to knock down a lot of trees and power lines, Accuweather meteorologist Brett Rathbun warned. Indeed, Michael accomplished its feat while crossing waters in the Gulf of Mexico that ranged from 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal. "You can rebuild your home, you cannot rebuild your life".

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit NPR's Emily Sullivan reports state and local governments are preparing for torrential downpours.

Michael's barometric pressure at landfall was 919 millibars, by that measurement the third-strongest hurricane to hit the USA on record, trailing on the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine. But it's still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, winds and a threat of spinoff tornadoes.

According to the 10 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael's winds had increased to 110 miles per hour and the central pressure was down to 965 millibars.

Michael is now moving northwards at 12mph.

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