Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

Pat Wise
October 9, 2018

The storm is strengthening and expected to hit the Florida Gulf Coast as a risky major hurricane Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

- One Bay Area school district is planning to cancel classes now that Tropical Storm Michael has reached hurricane strength and is expected to get even stronger before hitting the Florida Panhandle.

By Wednesday, Michael will likely move inland over the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, making its way across the southeastern US that night and Thursday morning. But within hours Sunday it had gained more punch and its top sustained winds clocked in at 60 mph (95 kph) by late Sunday evening.

Michael has been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it continues to move toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center.

A hurricane watch is now posted for the northeast Gulf Coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area. Storm surges of 2 to 12 feet (0.6 to 3.7 meters) were also expected. Storm surge is not much of a concern because forecasters expect the hurricane to move quickly across the state, Martin said.

It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches of rain.

A major hurricane is a Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane, which has winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

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The number of counties under a state of emergency has grown to 36.

Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm.

Michael already has disrupted the hectic campaign season, as Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, suspended campaign events to prepare the city for the hurricane.

As forecast, Michael would be the first Category 3 or higher hurricane to hit the Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

The hurricane was moving north about 9 miles per hour, expected to pass through the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in the United States late Wednesday. Regardless, significant storm surge and damaging winds will be expected along the Gulf Coast.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said: "This is a storm to definitely take very seriously".

You can text "ALALERT" to 888777 to receive information for Hurricane Michael from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

"As this system moves north into the Gulf, it is going to drag a lot of moisture up over Cuba and into South Florida".

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