Published: Wed, October 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Hurricane Michael is a storm to watch in Atlantic Canada

Hurricane Michael is a storm to watch in Atlantic Canada

"Michael will continue to pick up speed as it moves into the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico", News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges said.

The Category 2 storm, which has already disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, strengthened as it headed north, carrying winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour).

Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend regions, mostly rural areas known for small tourist cities, beaches and wildlife reserves, and the state capital, Tallahassee.

Additional warnings and watches are in effect to the west and south along the Gulf Coast and to the north and east in some inland counties, where evacuations began on Monday.

The storm is expected to unleash coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) along Florida's Panhandle and dump as much as a foot (30 cm) of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

The storm was forecast to move through the southeastern United States on Wednesday night and Thursday, passing through Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Everyone in hurricane and storm surge warning zones should prepare for life-threatening winds, the NHC said.

"For those considering evacuation, I can't stress strongly enough the importance of leaving as early as possible", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said on Facebook. Heavy rain, storm surge, and downed trees and power lines are also expected along Florida's western coast.

The storm's effects will be felt far from the eye of the hurricane.

The governor also told Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all they can to assure the safety of the frail and elderly. "You need to evacuate if you're ordered to do so", Scott said.

As with any hurricane that makes landfall, there will be the risk of tornadoes being spawned. "Hurricane Michael poses a deadly threat". The northernmost edge of the "cone of uncertainty", she said, goes through Southern Maryland; the southern edge, around the Outer Banks. "This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared".

Michael became a major hurricane on Tuesday afternoon as it zipped northward across the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Scott, after getting a briefing at 8 the State Emergency Operations Center, urged people who plan to evacuate to do so Tuesday morning, as he continued to expand the activation of the Florida National Guard in advance of Michael's landfall. He said tolls were being suspended in the state's northwest region to ease the evacuation process, and the Florida Highway Patrol is sending almost 350 state troopers to the Panhandle and Big Bend areas.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties. The latest European model shows the storm intensifying - possibly to a Category 3 - before it crests Florida's coast near Tallahassee. That's five times higher than runner-up Louisiana, which has experienced seven October hurricane hits, including three major hurricanes, according to National Hurricane Center records.

The most recent October landfalling hurricane in the Florida Panhandle was Hurricane Opal - a Category 3 storm in 1995.

Over the weekend, flooding related to Michael led to at least 13 deaths in the Central American countries of Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, according to officials.

More than 45 per cent of the nation's refining capacity is located along the US Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 per cent of total US natural gas processing capability.

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