'Monstrous' Hurricane Michael gains strength, takes aim at north Florida

'Monstrous' Hurricane Michael gains strength, takes aim at north Florida

'Monstrous' Hurricane Michael gains strength, takes aim at north Florida

In Gulf County alone, the first to begin ordering residents of low-lying areas to higher ground, mandatory evacuation notices encompassed an estimated 3,800 homes, said Jessica Sasich of the county's emergency operations centre.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Hurricane Michael was centered about 420 miles (675 kilometers) south of Panama City at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

In addition to hurricane-force winds and heavy rain, storm surge flooding is a big concern along the Florida Gulf coast.

The National Hurricane Center projects widespread rainfall amounts of four to eight inches, from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas north into Georgia and SC, and isolated amounts of up to a foot. "We are also working with federal, state and local officials to provide public shelter and accommodate those evacuating from other states", he said.

The Weather Service has already issued a tropical storm warning for the coast along Georgia and SC nearly as far north as Georgetown.

Authorities stressed the danger of the storm surge, when hurricanes push sea water high above their normal levels causing coastal flooding.

Additional strengthening is expected and Michael is forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall in Florida.

In terms of wind intensity, that would make it stronger than Hurricane Florence, which had winds of 90 miles per hour when it blew ashore in North Carolina last month.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm is centered about 60 miles (100 kilometers) off the western tip of Cuba, and about 485 miles (785 kilometers) south of Apalachicola, Florida.

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Kemp said the bill totaled over $800 when she and her family fled Hurricane Irma's uncertain path past year.

Forecasters and emergency managers continued to warn that flooding from Michael's storm surge remains a risky threat at landfall, since the bend in the coastline traps powerful waves. 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. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30 centimetres) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

"Damaging winds will also extend inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland", the hurricane center cautioned. "So we need the residents to be leaving today. because by this evening, those bridges are going to be in peril of being closed". "Take care of them", Scott said.

"It is a monstrous storm and the forecast (keeps) getting more risky", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.

Tolls were suspended in order to help people evacuate.

While hurricane-force winds of over 74 miles per hour will be confined to a relatively small area, tropical-storm winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour will occur over a much larger zone and could result in minor structural damage and many downed trees and power outages. This is in contrast to recent major storms, such as Harvey in 2017 and Florence in 2018, which made landfall in the United States and then stalled out.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for 92 counties in the state.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, filled sandbags with residents and urged residents of the state capital city to finish up emergency preparations quickly.

But despite that, Michael has the potential to become a major hurricane, possibly a Category 3.

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