Strengthening hurricane closes in on Florida Panhandle

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

As of Tuesday evening, Michael is spinning in the Gulf of Mexico 295 miles south of Panama City with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph as it heads north at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said a "life-threatening storm surge" was expected along much of the coast of the Florida Panhandle.

Some areas along the state's Big Bend area could see unsafe storm surge between six and 12 feet as Michael nears, the Hurricane Center reported.

As what is predicted to be a catastrophic storms whips towards the Gulf Coast, we're sharing all of the vital information you should know.

Interested in Hurricane Michael? We have already canceled several events, but no determination has been made on whether Friday's home soccer match will be affected at this time.

National Weather Service Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall Wednesday along Florida's Panhandle. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger, residents were urged to evacuate inland.

If Michael is a Category 2 storm, it will bring winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour and can be expected to produce extensive property damage. The NHC has issued numerous hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings for Florida and its neighboring states of Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. A tropical storm watch has been issued from South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

Forecasters expect Hurricane Michael to grow stronger still as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico on its way to Florida's Panhandle.

Infrared Satellite Animation of Michael from a Central American Gyre to a Category 2 Hurricane.

Even as the storm churned some 200 miles away from the Tampa Bay area, its effects could still be felt Tuesday as floodwaters reached the low-lying streets in areas such as Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach.

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas
Tropical storm warning issued for Midlands ahead of Hurricane Michael | News & Observer

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties along the panhandle and Florida's Big Bend regions. "What you're going to do is push a whole bunch of water into this whole area which is very vulnerable to storm surge".

Tallahassee´s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is campaigning to succeed Scott as governor in next month´s elections, suspended his campaign and returned to the state capital to oversee storm preparations.

"I know people are tired from Florence, but don't let this storm catch you with your guard down", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, adding, "A number of homes have rooftop tarps that could be damaged or blown away with this wind".

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also declared a statewide emergency in her state, which includes Russell, Lee, Chambers and Barbour counties near Columbus.

Another Columbus entity called SafeHouse, which is located at Rose Hill Methodist Church, 2101 Hamilton Road, is offering a place to stay for storm evacuees starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Scott also told Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all they can to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.

Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Pasco County, Madison County, Liberty County Leon County, Hernando County, Gadsden County, and Calhoun County are under voluntary or phased evacuation orders.

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post. Needless to say, the storm will have serious consequences for Florida (and downstream states such as Georgia) during the remainder of this week.

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