Watches issued for Gulf Coast as Michael strengthens into hurricane

Watches issued for Gulf Coast as Michael strengthens into hurricane

Troy Powers
October 9, 2018

Latest report shows Michael carrying 75 miles per hour max sustained winds with wind gusts exceeding 100 miles per hour.

Once the storm makes landfall, some projections estimate that it could make its way across Georgia and into North and SC before moving out into the Atlantic ocean.

Michael was now a Category 1 hurricane, at the bottom of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

Hurricane Michael could bring tropical storm force winds, so residents of the area are encouraged to secure any loose objects.

A hurricane watch is now posted for the northeast Gulf Coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida.

On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move over the Yucatan Channel on Monday, and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday through Tuesday night, and approach the northeastern Gulf coast on Wednesday.

In what appeared to be an off-script moment, Scott described the dynamics of storm surge: It moves in fast and leaves just as quickly, taking with it anything that isn't anchored.

Right now, the National Hurricane Center's forecast path shows Michael may make landfall between Pensacola and Destin, Florida, on Wednesday. A Tropical Storm Watch covered the area from Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, which includes Tampa Bay.

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"If this storm hit Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge", said Scott, referring to two Florida cities about 600 kilometres apart by highway.

A storm surge warning - meaning unsafe flooding could strike in the next 36 hours - is in effect for a long swath of Florida's coast, from the Okaloosa-Walton county line east of Pensacola to the Anclote River, just north of Tampa Bay.

"We're cleaning all of the storm drains", said Michael Cullum, director of St. Augustine's Public Works Department. Areas farther east in Georgia, such as in Albany and Macon, also have a chance for "weak short-lived tornadoes", the service said in a hazardous weather bulletin. Scott also activated 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of the storm.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for... Maximum sustained winds are now at 70 miles per hour and additional strengthening is forecast.

"Do not take a chance on storm surge", Scott said.

The hurricane center warned that the storm could produce a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

Early Monday afternoon, Michael was centered about 20 miles off the western tip of Cuba and about 600 miles south of Tallahassee, Florida.

"We will look in the morning where the storm is tracking, the intensity of the storm", said Capt. Chris Volz, head of the Baker County Emergency Operations Center.