Hurricane Michael to push Carolinas storm surge

Hurricane Michael to push Carolinas storm surge

Hurricane Michael to push Carolinas storm surge

Hurricane Michael is now an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130mph and could become even stronger before it makes landfall in Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend area on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center warns.

The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn't almost finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.

The NHC in its latest update said Michael has 145 miles per hour winds, making it a Category 4. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 45 miles (75 kilometers) from its center.

A water-level station in Apalachicola, close to where Michael came ashore, reported a surge of almost 8 feet (2.5 meters). "We have lots of water and food for the dogs, and I'm going to tape up the windows, cover the windows, just tack them up with sheets or whatever, to keep the glass from flying if that happens", he said. A quarter of a million homes and businesses already were without power, and the number was rising rapidly.

Only a skeleton staff remained at Tyndall Air Force Base, which is located on a peninsula just south of Panama City. The home of the 325th Fighter Wing and some 600 military families appeared squarely targeted for the worst of the storm's fury, and leaders declared HURCON 1 status, ordering out all but essential personnel. He said "aggressive" search and rescue efforts would get underway.

Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

Tropical storm force winds of 30 miles per hour have been reported.

"This is a nightmare hurricane for the Big Bend", said Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at WeatherTiger.

With the hurricane still pounding the state hours after it came ashore, and conditions too unsafe in places for search-and-rescue teams to go out, there were no further reports on deaths or injuries by nightfall.

An Illinois native with a beard, long hair and a streak of independence, Thomas hasn't been through a major hurricane before; he's only lived in Panama City Beach about seven years.

However, the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, an advocacy group, claims at least 15 prisons in mandatory evacuation zones have not been evacuated, despite an early morning report by the National Hurricane Center that referred to the storm as "potentially catastrophic".

University of Georgia's Marshall Shepherd, a former president of the American Meteorological Society, called it a "life-altering event", writing on Facebook that he watched the storm's growth on satellite images with a growing pit in his stomach.

There are presently 119 people in a shelter at the north end of the county and 200 in the south end, Saul said. "Hopefully more people will leave". Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds.

"We are catching some hell", said Timothy Thomas, who rode out the storm with his wife in their second-floor apartment in Panama City Beach.

The retired mill worker took a last look at the canal behind his home, built on tall stilts overlooking the Gulf.

"We didn't think it was going to be this bad", she told CNN. "We want to get them out of the way".

With Election Day less than a month away, the crisis was seen as a test of leadership for Scott, a Republican running for the Senate, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor. Bill Nelson, described a destructive "wall of water", but some officials didn't see any rush of evacuees ahead of the storm. "She's my baby", O'Brien said, her face wet with tears. "But in my experience, it's always blown way out of proportion".

For those who are in the monster storm's path, there are ways to let loved ones know that you are safe. That included Pensacola Beach but not in Pensacola itself, a city of about 54,000. Winds have increased over the Georgia and SC coasts, as those in North Carolina are monitoring for flooding potential.

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