Friday, 14 December, 2018

Tropical Storm Michael Could Turn Into 'Devastating' Hurricane Before It Hits Florida

Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane Tropical Storm Michael will be a hurricane today. It’s heading toward the Carolinas | The Herald Sun
Kristen Harrington | 09 October, 2018, 01:05

The storm rapidly intensified overnight despite shear and should become a Category 3 hurricane before landfall Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast.

A Storm Surge Watch and Tropical Storm Watch have both been issued for coastal areas including Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.

By Wednesday, Michael will likely move inland over the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, making its way across the southeastern USA that night and Thursday morning.

The latest wind speed probabilities show over a 50 percent chance of winds of 40 miles per hour or greater for most of our area.

Michael's large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida's Gulf coast with many rivers and estuaries where seawater pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped, said Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham. Michael became a hurricane early Monday, forecasters said, crossing a critical threshold as it churned by the western tip of Cuba. Another Watch is in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

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An Air Force hurricane hunter airplane was sent into the storm to investigate, the hurricane center said.

Michael is now officially a Category 1 hurricane, and is expected to be a Category 3 when it makes landfall Wednesday.

Tampa Bay has about a 40 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds within the next five days, according to the Weather Service.

This would make the storm a major hurricane with maximum sustained winds of between 111 and 129 miles per hour.

The number of counties under a state of emergency has grown to 36. Scott advised Gulf Coast residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders, and he put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert.

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The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is actively monitoring what has recently developed into Hurricane Michael.

The storm is about 120 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico and about 70 miles west of Cuba.

It's expected to move over the Yucatan Channel and then crosses the Gulf of Mexico, nearing the Florida Panhandle coast by Wednesday. "Take this seriously and keep your family safe", Scott urged his constituents while speaking from Bay County.

Florida State University and Florida A&M University announced they will be canceling classes for the rest of the week, meaning many students will likely be taking to the roads to escape the storms path.

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move northeast along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

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