Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Florida Campuses Close Ahead of Hurricane Michael

Florida Campuses Close Ahead of Hurricane Michael

The storm - now located over the Gulf of Mexico - is sweeping toward the Florida coast at around 12 miles per hour and is expected to make landfall on Wednesday, bringing with it "life threatening" storm surges and heavy rainfall, the National Hurricane Center said.

—Hurricane history: first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Florida's Panhandle since record-keeping began in 1851. The storm was moving northeast at 20 mph with 60 mph maximum sustained winds, about 15 mph less than the minimum speed to be considered a hurricane.

The storm's intensity waned steadily as it pushed inland and curled northeasterly into Georgia after dark.

Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

A man was killed when a tree toppled onto his house in Florida and a girl died when debris fell into a home in Georgia, officials said and local media reported.

— Top winds: 155 miles per hour (250 kph), strong enough to completely destroy homes and cause weekslong power outages.

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.

"My God, it's scary".

At nightfall, the city was plunged into darkness, its flooded streets mostly silent and devoid of people or traffic. The lead-grey water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes. The fate of about 280 residents who authorities said ignored evacuation orders was unknown.

Coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) are expected along the panhandle. Wind damage was also widespread.

In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr said the 2300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades. For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.

But Brad Kieserman of the American Red Cross said Wednesday that as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast had disregarded mandatory or voluntary evacuation notices.

Bottomline - Petro says Eastern and Central Carolina need to take Hurricane Michael seriously. "Houses that have been there forever are just shattered". Its winds roaring, it battered the coastline with sideways-blown rain, powerful gusts and crashing waves. "It's very, very scary".

"I just can't bring myself to spend that much money", she said. "This happened so quickly", he said.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the most powerful hurricane to blow ashore on the USA mainland since Camille in 1969.

"Satellite images of Michael's evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-dropping", wrote Bob Henson, a meteorologist with weather site Weather Underground.

Michael also ranked as the third-strongest storm on record to make landfall in the continental United States, after Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.

The governors of Florida, Alabama and Georgia declared states of emergency as Michael closed in, and hundreds of Florida National Guard members were activated. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

Heavy rains are forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence last month.

Michael also could dump up to a foot of rain over some Panhandle communities before it sweeps through the Southeast and goes out to sea over the next few days.

Alabama is under a statewide state of emergency ahead of the hurricane, along with 92 counties in southern Georgia and 35 counties in Florida.

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