Evacuations ordered as Hurricane Michael speeds toward Florida

Posted October 11, 2018

"PREPARE NOW", the National Weather Service said on Twitter on Tuesday. "This is the real thing, a significant threat to life and safety". "I think for the most part, Charlotte's going to be in a pretty good position overall and then the system moves away from us".

In neighboring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.

The hurricane, now off Cuba's western tip, is expected to make landfall on the Florida panhandle and affect portions of southern Alabama.

At least 13 people have died in Central America over the weekend because of torrential rains and flash flooding caused by the storm.

By 5 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 80 miles per hour (130 kph) as it headed north at 9 miles per hour (15 kph).

Hurricane Michael is gaining strength as it lashes Cuba's western tip and lumbers northward toward the U.S. "Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state".

7A.M. The Tuesday morning update from the National Hurricane Center reports that Michael is now a catergory 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour. The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center, according to the weather center.

Hurricane Michael will cross interior portions of Eastern North Carolina (S. of Oregon Inlet to Cape Hatteras) late Thursday through Friday morning.

The hurricane center warned that the storm could produce a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

A hurricane Warning was issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to Suwannee River.

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.

Speaking alongside emergency officials in Pasco County, Scott said Monday he's waiving tolls.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) Mutual Aid team is communicating with law enforcement partners and participating in regular conference calls with the State Emergency Operations Center. A storm surge of up to 12 feet is forecast for a large section of the Florida coast.

Central Florida is not now in the cone of uncertainty as the Panhandle will apparently get the major impacts from the storm.

In Bay County, Florida, where 120,000 people were ordered to evacuate, the school district tweeted that the decision to cancel school wasn't made lightly, but so many families have heeded the warnings to flee.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

In a Facebook post, Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111mph. The strongest winds will likely occur in our southern counties, where there is the high end potential for wind gusts over 70 miles per hour.