Hurricane Michael menaces Florida after fatal flooding in Central America

An are of low pressure in the far western Caribbean is expected to develop into a tropical depression or even a tropical storm on Sunday. Michaels is the next name up. The storm could threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday

The Category 1 hurricane, as of 5 p.m. EDT Monday, is forecast to possibly strengthen to a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds topping 111 miles per hour near its center of rotation before reaching the Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning at Panama City Beach, Fla.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30cm) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on October 10 and October 11 plowing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

"Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a Monday press conference. Meanwhile at least three Florida counties - Bay, Gulf and Wakulla - have ordered mandatory evacuations in anticipation of the storm's impending arrival.

"On the state level, we are prepared", said Ivey. Michael is now a strong category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Once the storm and cold front pass, it now looks like we'll see some actual cooler air with highs next weekend expected to stay in the 60s. "Impacts from Hurricane Michael along the Florida Panhandle will include a risky storm surge, flooding rainfall and damaging winds". "What you're going to do is push a whole bunch of water into this whole area which is very vulnerable to storm surge".

Manatee County also was included in Scott's request that President Donald Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency in those 35 counties in preparation for Hurricane Michael. It is expected to cut quickly across the Peach State toward the Carolinas and areas flooded severely last month by Hurricane Florence. A broad swath of Florida's Big Bend is now projected to see a storm surge of anywhere from eight to twelve feet.

A large mound of sand in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, was whittled down to a small pile within hours as residents filled sandbags to prepare for potential flooding.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

"Today it is about life and safety", Gillum said. It will weaken into a tropical storm near the Carolinas and Virginia on its way back to the Atlantic Ocean, forecasters said. The intensifying storm is likely to make landfall Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane and conditions will begin to deteriorate Tuesday night. The worst conditions for central Georgia will be Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Farther west along Florida's Panhandle, the city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place".

Heavy rainfall is also likely across the area.



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