Michael Now A Hurricane, Threatens Florida Panhandle

Jan Cross
October 9, 2018

NHC Director Ken Graham warned that Hurricane Michael's winds could reach at least 100 miles per hour or higher as the storm approaches the coast on October 10.

Michael was upgraded to a hurricane Monday and is expected to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before reaching the Panhandle and Big Bend area on Wednesday.

CNN reports that such language is warranted, for Michael is now "slashing Cuba" and is expected to reach Category 3 status (with sustained winds from 111-129 mph) by Wednesday when it reaches the USA mainland.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Florida panhandle, and a tropical storm watch is in effect much of Florida's west coast, reports the center.

Michael has strengthened into a hurricane and is forecast to strike the northeast Florida coastline as a Category 3 with unsafe storm surge flooding, destructive winds and flooding rainfall.

Even if Michael weakens after landfall, the hurricane center says, part of the system will keep circulating over water along the southeastern coast - a situation that will likely help Michael remain a tropical storm for the following 72 hours.

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The storm's track and strength are still uncertain, but eastern Virginia could see rain as early as Thursday night, NWS meteorologist Jeff Orrock said.

"Hurricane conditions will spread over portions of western Cuba this afternoon, where a hurricane warning is now in effect".

Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center is telling residents to take this threat seriously and to expect storm surge and heavy rainfall along with unsafe winds. In Charlotte, Panovich said the European model shows the storm slowing down and could have a bigger impact than other long-range models.

Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties as Tropical Storm Michael lashed Cuba. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

This is a map showing the forecast cone for Hurricane Michael, which strengthened from a tropical storm. The biggest concerns for the Florida coastline, particularly an area between Destin and Apalachicola, are strong winds and a damaging storm surge.

Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, opened two locations Sunday where residents could get sandbags to prepare for flooding.

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