Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Florida declares state of emergency in 26 counties as Hurricane Michael approaches

Florida declares state of emergency in 26 counties as Hurricane Michael approaches

With the high wind shear that had been making it hard for the storm to organize retreating from the Gulf of Mexico it is likely the system will become Michael as it makes its way north.

Tropics: Tropical Storm Michael was named on Sunday and is set to travel into the Gulf over the next couple of days.

How rapid this intensification may be will be telling for the eventual strength achieved by hurricane Michael over the coming days, with many meteorologists suggesting that once the storm passes Cuba there is little but relatively favourable conditions between hurricane Michael and a strong category landfall. The winds right now could be sustained up to 80 miles per hour with gusts as high as 90-100 miles per hour.

Now is the time to prepare in the case of heavy rain and severe storms.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Sunday that the tropical depression could strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Michael became a hurricane in the northern Caribbean Sea Monday and is expected to strengthen to become a major hurricane before making landfall in the Florida Panhandle late Wednesday.

With Hurricane Michael rapidly intensifying and threatening to smash Florida's Panhandle with unsafe storm surge, flooding and winds, Gov. Rick Scott didn't mince words on Monday night: "Making decisions tomorrow might be too late". Michael's center will move over the Yucatan Channel on Monday and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday through Tuesday night, and approach the northeastern Gulf coast on Wednesday.

Michael was about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, and about 100 miles south-southwest off the western tip of Cuba, according to the center's 5 a.m. advisory. As of right now it is forecasted to make landfall Wednesday.

The 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". The storm is moving to the due north at 7 miles per hour.

Besides the hurricane watch, a tropical storm watch is in effect from the Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, as well as from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

He will be updated on Tropical Storm Michael in the Emergency Operations Center at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Rick Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties to rush preparations in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area, freeing up resources and activating 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of Tropical Storm Michael.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said.

They also believe that Michael will produce four to eight inches of rain in Western Cuba, with maximum amounts of 12 inches. Storm surge could reach heights of 6 to 9 feet from the Okaloosa-Walton County line to Mexico Beach and from Keaton Beach to Cedar Key.

The governor declared a state of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties.

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