Hurricane Michael to make landfall on Florida Panhandle as powerful Category 4

Hurricane Michael to make landfall on Florida Panhandle as powerful Category 4

Michael will arrive as an "extremely dangerous" storm Wednesday afternoon with winds of 145 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. update Wednesday.

The storm also is likely dump prodigious amounts of rain over Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas - still recovering from severe flooding last month in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas. The NHC has issued numerous hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings for Florida and its neighboring states of Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. "Residents in these areas should follow advice given by local officials". However, Fanara said, Michael's strong winds also could stir up pollution and nutrients in the water that feed algae blooms.

The Gulf produces 17 percent of daily US crude oil output and 5 percent of daily natural gas output, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for coastal areas of Gulf County, according to a news release from the Port St. Joe Police Department.

The region should brace for "major infrastructure damage", specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call.

About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were aiding the evacuation process and more than 4,000 troops placed on standby, Scott tweeted.

Michael is forecasted to become a major hurricane by Tuesday or Tuesday night.

Ahead of the storm, Florida State University announced that it would shut down after midnight Monday and remain closed for the rest of the week.

Lines at gasoline stations were growing long in Panama City as people prepared to leave areas under mandatory evacuation, Mr. Trepanier said. Those who stayed emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and make other preparations. "Tropical storm conditions are expected over the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula and the Isle of Youth today", the center said.

Current forecast guidance suggests a landfall near Panama City Beach early Wednesday.

Since the storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico, which has warm water and favourable atmospheric conditions, "there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall", Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub, wrote in an advisory.

At 2pm ET (2am on Wednesday Singapore time), Michael's centre was about 500km south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, heading north at around 19kmh, the NHC said. However, forecasters always note it is not possible to say where a hurricane will land until it is closer to the coast.

Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America. Storm surge is not much of a concern because forecasters expect the hurricane to move quickly across the state, Martin said.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said his deputies had gone door to door in some places along the coast to urge people to evacuate.

The governor has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties, and is stressing that residents should "absolutely" evacuate if ordered to.

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