Hurricane Michael Could Be 'One of the Worst' to Strike Florida

Florida

The Category 2 storm, which has already disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, strengthened as it headed north, carrying winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour).

The Florida Disaster website on October 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Panhandle in more than a decade.

"This is a part of the Gulf of Mexico that is incredibly vulnerable to storm surge", Graham said.

As Michael moved over open water, energy companies halted almost one-fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated personnel from 10 platforms on Monday. On its current track, Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico throughout Tuesday and then move inland over the Panhandle or Big Bend area of Florida on Wednesday, according to the hurricane center.

"Historically, hurricanes that approach the Florida coast in this area tend to weaken slightly prior to landfall, but little difference in impact related to wind and storm surge is likely regardless", Kottlowski said.

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). Lines at gasoline stations grew as people left.

"#Michael could be one of the worst hurricanes to strike the Florida Big Bend and Florida Panhandle region", Rick Knabb, the hurricane expert at The Weather Channel, tweeted on Monday.

Locally, Michael will likely lead to some flash flooding, minor river flooding, downed trees, and power outages.

Hurricane Michael is expected to bring storm surges and heavy rainfall when it smashes into Florida midweek. Storm surge could reach a monstrous 12 feet in some areas - enough to "easily go over the roofs of some houses", he said. However, forecasters always note it is not possible to say where a hurricane will land until it is closer to the coast.

Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon county, home to the state capital Tallahassee.

The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade.

The Miami-based center forecast as much as 1 foot (30 cm) of rain in parts of Florida, Georgia and SC.

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