Hurricane Michael Strengthens to Cat 3, Heads for Florida Panhandle

Thursday, 11 Oct, 2018

Category 4 Michael is packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, centered about 170 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida and moving north at some 12 miles per hour.

The brute storm that sprang from a weekend tropical depression gained in fury and size just hours ahead of Wednesday's projected midday landfall, packed 125 mph (200 kph) winds as a unsafe Category 3 storm.

After ramping up in intensity with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, Category 4 Hurricane Michael was zeroing in on landfall in an area now being pinpointed between St. Vincent Island and Panama City.

Another hurricane is due to hit the USA, with Michael set to reach the coast of Floridia today.

People fill bags with sand at the Lynn Haven Sports Complex while preparing for major Category 3 Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida.

According to forecasters, Hurricane Michael is expected to be move towards northeast Georgia, Carolinas on Thursday while local weather department has predicted that it will be above Mid-Atlantic coast on Friday. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

"Outer band of Hurricane Michael coming ashore here", Jon Ward in Panama City said on Twitter.

Some 120,000 people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.

Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen.

While it's likely to weaken as it moves across the southeastern United States, its heavy rains and flooding effects will spread far and wide. Total rainfall for most of the area will be between 3 to 4 inches with isolated higher amounts.

Heavy rains are forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence last month. But it's just good to go ahead and look at it.

In all, the military has 2,216 active duty personnel, 32 helicopters, 240 high-water vehicles and 32 swift water boats in place in the event that the governor of Florida requests the military's assistance in rescues, O'Shaughnessy said.

Florida Emergency Management Director Wes Maul said the state is prepared for search-and-rescue operations, as well as bringing food and medical supplies into areas, as there will be "devastating impacts". Tornadoes could spawn in the Southeast Wednesday into Thursday, forecasters said. Heavy rainfall will drench Florida's Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia and SC; up to 12 inches is possible in isolated locations.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

"It's our first storm (forecast) to be on top of us", Mollie Williams, a 17-year resident, said warily. He focused on islands off the coast whose bridges may close as the storm approaches.

"The Waffle House test just doesn't tell us how quickly a business might rebound - it also tells how the larger community is faring", FEMA's Dan Stoneking wrote in a 2011 blog post. "So, we need the residents to be leaving today because by this evening, those bridges are going to be in peril of being closed".

People in coastal parts of 20 Florida counties had been told to leave their homes but by Wednesday morning were told it was too late to flee.

Florida's Big Bend, a loosely defined area of the eastern Panhandle where the coastline bends to the south, was bracing for the worst.

Overnight Tuesday, Florida Gov.