Hurricane Michael could hit Florida as a Category 3 Wednesday

Hurricane Michael could hit Florida as a Category 3 Wednesday

Byard said an estimated 500,000 people were under evacuation orders and advisories in Florida, where residents and tourists were fleeing low-lying areas in at least 20 counties stretching along 200 miles (322 km) of shore in the Panhandle and adjacent Big Bend region.

Anticipated landfall is expected on Wednesday on the north-east Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992. It was one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the US mainland and the most powerful one on record to menace the Panhandle, a roughly 200-mile stretch of fishing towns, military bases and spring-break beaches. "You know, that's hard", she said, choking back tears. They're also concerned about flooding rains. It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by Tuesday, more than 180,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to blow ashore on the USA mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. "You can not hide from storm surge, so get out if an evacuation is ordered".

As of 10 a.m., the hurricane watch for the coast of Alabama was discontinued. More than 80 deaths were linked to that storm, according to The Associated Press - including residents of a nursing home.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and said he was seeking a federal disaster declaration from President Donald Trump, who promised full support for Florida's efforts.

Other locations in the state are under voluntary evacuation.

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"Storm surge is the No. 1 problem that you can see from these storms. You have rain, you have wind - but storm surge, that's a lot of water that can come onshore", said David Peaton, the assistant director of emergency management in Levy County, in an interview with local station WUFT.

"I've had to take antacids I'm so sick to my stomach today because of this impending catastrophe", National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake tweeted as the storm - drawing energy from the unusually warm, 84-degree Gulf waters - became more menacing. "On the state level we are prepared, now is the time for residents in south Alabama to review your emergency preparedness plans and also get prepared". It would head off the Mid-Atlantic coast by Friday, the NHC said.

The National Weather Service described Michael as "extremely unsafe", saying it will bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall along the northeastern Gulf Coast.

Florida Fish and Wildlife has put 40 additional law enforcement officers on notice to deploy with a variety of special equipment, including boats that can be used for high-water rescues.

The storm was forecast to move through the southeastern United States on Wednesday and Thursday, passing through Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.