Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall as a Category 4 Storm

Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall as a Category 4 Storm

On Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Michael to a category two storm, which comes with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.

In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber.

After being battered for almost three hours by strong winds and heavy rains, roads in Panama City were virtually impassable and trees, satellite dishes and traffic lights lay in the streets.

Steve Litschauer, the interim director of the Manatee County Emergency Management Center, said Hurricane Michael could bring 2 to 4 feet of storm surge along the coast with an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain.

The surge, or the rise in sea water above normally dry land along the coast, could reach at least 2.4m to 3.6m in the hardest-hit areas, inundating roads, homes and businesses.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly". Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

National Hurricane Center track for Hurricane Michael, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Smith, in Gadsden County, said the situation was risky even for emergency personnel.

"I didn't expect all this", said Bill Manning, 63, a grocery clerk who fled his camper van in Panama City for safer quarters in a hotel, only to see the electricity there go out.

In the first apparent hurricane-related fatality reported, Gadsden County sheriff's spokeswoman, Anglie Hightower, said a "male subject" was killed by a tree toppling onto his house in Greensboro.

Smith could not provide details on the victim. Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves through the southeastern United States.

General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm. The storm is now a Category 4, which The Weather Channel warns will cause a "catastrophic storm surge". Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.

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More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were urged to evacuate as Michael closed in.

Only three major hurricanes have made landfall in the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

Some further strengthening is expected overnight and on Wednesday, and Michael is forecast to become a category 4 hurricane before it makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Big Bend area.

As of 5 p.m. EDT, Michael was 295 miles (470 kilometers) south of Panama City, speeding northward at 12 mph (19 kph).

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in Wakulla, Gulf and Bay counties.

The National Weather Service calls for highs in the upper 80s for the rest of the week, with lows in the 70s.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday: "We are very well prepared for the incoming hurricane".

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

Anxious meteorologists said it had the potential of becoming one of the worst storms in the history of Florida's Panhandle.

"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.

NHC's Graham warned that the storm would continue to pack tropical storm-force winds when it reached the Carolinas, still reeling from severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence last month.

In terms of wind intensity, that would make it stronger than Hurricane Florence, which had winds of 90 miles per hour when it blew ashore in North Carolina last month.

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