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Evacuations as Florida braces for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael

Evacuations as Florida braces for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael, which forecasters expect to make landfall around Panama City Wednesday, has forced mandatory evacuation orders for coastal or low-lying areas for almost a dozen counties as of Tuesday, according to the state emergency web site: Bay, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Taylor, Wakulla and Walton.

Hurricane Michael now has maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. advisory.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, warned on Tuesday that warm waters will probably further strengthen Michael before it makes landfall.

Michael is forecast to produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Panhandle and Big Bend through portions of the Carolinas through Thursday, with 10 inches of rain forecast across parts of the Panhandle.

According to NHC, the worst storm surge is expected between Mexico Beach and Keaton Beach in Florida where nine to 13 feet of inundation is possible. Voluntary evacuations were ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties.

Hurricane warnings blanketed much of northeastern Florida, from the Suwanee River to the Alabama border. Following Hurricane Irma past year, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

These storm surges can cause more damage from flooding than the winds.

After it makes landfall in the Panhandle or Big Bend, the storm is expected to head northeast across Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from widespread flood damage from a slow-moving Hurricane Florence last month.

Hurricane Michael would be the first major hurricane to hit the panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005, which made landfall near Pensacola, according to hurricane centre data.

As of early Tuesday, Michael was 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

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Though the Midlands area is not expecting hurricane-force winds, the Columbia area could experience a harder impact than it did during Hurricane Florence, forecasters said Tuesday. Mandatory evacuations were under way in coastal areas, with 1,250 National Guard soldiers aiding the process and more than 4,000 troops placed on standby, Scott tweeted.

"I am concerned about the cone of uncertainty as Hurricane Michael is leaning west today", Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings said in a statement Monday. "It looked a couple of days ago like it was not going to be much, and now it's looking like it could be a very big one, so we're prepared".

Lines at gasoline stations were growing long in Panama City as people prepared to leave areas under mandatory evacuation, Trepanier said. By Friday (Oct. 12), the storm will make its way out over the northern Atlantic, NOAA is now predicting.

Winds are forecast to reach up to 110-miles-per-hour and some areas are expected to see an eight-to-twelve foot storm surge.

Forecasters say some regions may see 12in (30cm) of rain, and storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m). "Don't take a chance", he said.

Volusia County Beach Safety secured non-essential equipment off of the beach due to the predicted wind and swell, said spokeswoman Captain Tamara Malphurs.

In Alabama, where residents may see massive power outages, high winds and heavy rain, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency statewide.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared a preemptive state of emergency for 92 counties.

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 get their storm preparations completed.


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