Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered activation of the State Emergency Operations Center and mandatory evacuations are in effect along much of Florida’s northern Gulf Coast as 'Monstrous' Hurricane Michael heads towards Panama City.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Michael is a major Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. The storm is centered roughly 270 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida and is moving north at about 12 mph.
Michael could strengthen further before making landfall near Panama City, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon.
The storm is expected to bring sustained winds of 80-100 mph with gusts of 120-130 mph to parts of the Florida Panhandle, mostly within 40 miles of where Michael makes landfall on Wednesday afternoon. The strongest gusts are likely just to the east of the center. This will lead to widespread tree and structural damage.
There may be prolonged power outages that could last for several days after Michael moves away. Wind damage will be on a more localized level as Michael moves across the Carolinas and Virginia. However, any weakened structures left behind from Florence will be at the highest risk for damage.
Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 3 storm over the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday while bearing down on the Florida Panhandle, which was bracing for fierce winds and life-threatening flooding.
The storm was expected to begin lashing the coast with tropical-storm force as soon as Tuesday night. Michael was then forecast to make landfall on Wednesday as a major hurricane, meaning at least Category 3 force, the National Hurricane Center said. A storm with that power hasn’t struck the Florida Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
Michael formed quickly, only reaching hurricane strength on Monday, giving Floridians little time to prepare. Gov. Rick Scott warned the storm poses deadly risks and urged people to follow local evacuation orders. Counties along the coast—including Bay, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Wakulla and Walton—ordered evacuations, according to the governor’s office. Other counties urged people to leave.
There are 57,000 homes at risk for potential storm-surge damage on Florida’s Gulf Coast, with an estimated reconstruction-cost value of about $13.4 billion, according to CoreLogic, a real-estate-data company.
Storm Surge Area
Best wishes to everyone in the storm path and flood zones.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock