Fri, 04 Dec 2020

Florida panhandle braces as monstrous hurricane menaces

By Sheetal Sukhija, Middle East News.Net
10 Oct 2018, 15:04 GMT+10

FLORIDA, U.S. - As the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season nears an end, the increasingly savage Hurricane Michael has increased fears in the region, while also leaving meteorologists boggled at its unprecedented pace.  

On Tuesday, after being upgraded to a Category 2 storm as it barreled toward the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Michael was on a path to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle.

Later in the day, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to Category 3 and said that Michael was packing 120 mile-per-hour winds.

The hurricane was set to become the most powerful hurricane to strike the mainland U.S. so far this year.

Forecasters have issued warnings over the storm surge reaching 12 feet in some areas and Governors in at least three states have declared emergencies.

Further, a hurricane warning remains in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida. 

Simultaneously, a hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Florida Governor Rick Scott's office said that evacuation orders were in place for parts of at least 18 counties, adding, that over 30 shelters had been opened. 

Some 2,500 members of the National Guard had been activated, and specialized search-and-rescue teams were being deployed.

Scott urged residents to heed evacuation orders and to prepare for a storm that he warned "could bring total devastation to parts of our state."

He added, "Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm, and the forecast keeps getting more dangerous."

Meanwhile, Michale is also expected to cross Georgia on Wednesday and Thursday, .

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 of his state's 159 counties.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has also issued an emergency declaration.

The National Hurricane Center has pointed out that if the storm's strength does not dissipate as per predictions - Michael will become one of the strongest storms to make landfall in Florida. 

The hit and run Hurricane

On October 2, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) documented a seemingly inconsequential but large area of low pressure over the southwestern Caribbean Sea.

The depression, that originated a few hundred miles north of Panama, achieved Potential Tropical Cyclone status merely four days later.

On October 6, it began moving towards Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, with its wind speeds intensifying in the hours that followed.

It was labelled a tropical storm on October 8, after the NHS pointed out that its sustained wind speeds had intensified from 35 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour. 

The same evening, the newly christened Tropical Storm Michael entered the Gulf of Mexico, sparking warnings of severe weather across the U.S. East Coast.

The National Weather Service warned of the possibility of flooding in the Plains and widespread snowfall in Colorado, North Dakota, the Northern Rockies and the Plains. 

Experts also warned that the potential hurricane could batter North Carolina with heavy rain, even as the state tries to recover from the deadly hurricane Florence. 

Further, Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted, "Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane or tropical storm can be. As we continue to monitor this storm's path toward Florida, it is critically important that our communities have every available resource to keep everyone safe."

Then, after a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center, Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area. 

He warned, "This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous."

On Monday morning, NHS issued an advisory declaring Michael a Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS).

It said that Michael was located at about 420 miles south of Panama City, Fla., and about 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Fla. and ad been generating sustained winds at 90 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, as it threatened disaster in the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. President Donald Trump declared that the country was very well prepared for the hurricane.

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