Residents Prepare to Evacuate as Hurricane Michael Heads Toward Florida Panhandle

Residents Prepare to Evacuate as Hurricane Michael Heads Toward Florida Panhandle

A red flag, warning of unsafe conditions, is seen on a pier in advance of Hurricane Michael in Pensacola, Florida, U.S. October 9, 2018.

"Areas hit hard by Florence may face disruptions to ongoing cleanup efforts or renewed flooding depending on the track of the storm", AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast that Michael would become a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale before coming ashore on Wednesday midday over the Panhandle or the Big Bend area. "It will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe".

He said: "You can not hide from storm surge".

Hurricane Michael formed Monday morning in the Caribbean Sea and is heading for a landfall as a major hurricane with 120-mph winds along the Gulf Coast by midweek.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties, activating 500 National Guard troops in preparation for the storm.

Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon county, home to the state capital Tallahassee. More than 10,000 people were ordered out of Panama City Beach alone, effective at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

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"We've practiced this many times. This is game time", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said. It will retain much more of its power because of the rapid movement. The fix bill came in at more than $60 billion, ranking Irma among the most costly storms in US history.

Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle with frightening fury.

The storm is now moving north, crossing into the Gulf of Mexico, and will likely curve to the east after its coastal impact.

The amount of wind the area could see is not yet clear. Storm surge could reach a monstrous 12 feet in some areas - enough to "easily go over the roofs of some houses", he said. With Hurricane Michael's landfall on the Gulf Coast expected on Wednesday, officials in coastal counties were preparing for evacuations and emergencies.

The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month. Michael will likely be the fourth.

"Folks are ready from the government side, but we need citizens to also be ready", said Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic candidate for governor in next month's election. "They are their best first responders".

A hurricane warning was in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, with a hurricane watch in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

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