Hurricane Michael strengthens en route to Florida
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 10/09/18, 11:37 am
Hurricane Michael intensified to a Category 2 storm Tuesday morning as residents along Florida’s Gulf Coast braced for what could be a devastating hit on Wednesday. By 8 a.m. Tuesday, top winds had reached 100 mph, and the storm was barreling toward the Florida Panhandle at 12 mph. Michael’s wind gusts and rain bands will likely start whipping the coast later Tuesday, according to Hurricane Center director Ken Graham. “Guess what? That’s today,” Graham said. “If they tell you to leave, you have to leave.” Mandatory evacuations went into effect Tuesday morning for 120,000 people in Panama City Beach, Fla., and other low-lying areas of the coast. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay.
Forecasters said Michael, currently located 395 miles south of Panama City, Fla., could bring a storm surge of up to 12 feet for the Big Bend area and dump up to a foot of rain over Panhandle communities before it moves to Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia on Wednesday night and Thursday. Michael already wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, with disaster agencies in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua reporting 13 deaths due to collapsed roofs and swollen rivers.
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Kiley is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on marriage, family, and sexuality.