Hurricane Michael: 'Monstrous' storm strengthens to category two

Pat Wise
October 10, 2018

Energy companies on Monday halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated staff from 13 platforms as Hurricane Michael intensified and headed for a path up the eastern U.S. Gulf.

"A hurricane warning has been issued for portions of the Florida Gulf Coast, and everyone in these areas should prepare for life-threatening winds associated with the core of Michael".

The National Hurricane Center, citing Michael's unsafe trifecta of storm surge, flash flooding and winds, described the seventh hurricane of the Atlantic season as "life-threatening", and the Florida Division of Emergency Management warned on Twitter of the storm's "rapid intensification" ahead of landfall.

Hurricane Michael caused widespread destruction in Central America over the weekend, where at least 13 people have been reported dead.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued Tropical Storm Watches across many SC counties Tuesday morning, including Allendale, Hampton, Dorchester, Beaufort and Charleston counties.

The earliest reasonable time the winds could arrive in the southern part of the United States is around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the hurricane center. The storm is strengthening as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico, and the hurricane is predicted to be a major storm when it hits the Florida panhandle on Wednesday.

"Storm surge is absolutely deadly", Scott said. Additional warnings and watches are in effect to the west and south along the Gulf Coast and to the north and east in some inland counties, where evacuations began on Monday. "Residents and businesses in coastal Alabama must be vigilant and closely monitor the storm's path and be prepared for a major hurricane".

He said: "Today is about life and safety".

Landfall is expected Wednesday on the northeastern Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike.

Forecasters predict winds could top 110mph by Tuesday night as it heads past Cuba and Mexico towards the US.

Florida's Governor Rick Scott has declared a state emegency in 35 counties along the Panhandle and Florida's Big Bend regions - including the state capital Tallahassee.

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"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN.

There will be no shelters open in Wakulla County, the sheriff's office warned on Facebook, because they are rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

Gillum said Monday that officials initially thought, "we will have outages and it will be inconvenient".

Hurricane Michael is coming.

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

Mr Rick Scott told a news conference on Tuesday: "Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and it keeps getting more risky". Storm surge rises rapidly Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday.

Hurricane-force winds and strong rain were being felt in Cuba.

Winds are forecast to reach up to 110-miles-per-hour and some areas are expected to see an eight-to-twelve foot storm surge. It is expected to become a hurricane by Tuesday.

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.

Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Pasco County, Madison County, Liberty County Leon County, Hernando County, Gadsden County, and Calhoun County are under voluntary/phased evacuation orders.

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