Monstrous Storm Set to Hit Florida, But Fear Not, the Governor Is Here
FLORIDA – October 10, 2018
Hurricane Michael intensified on Tuesday as it barreled towards the Florida coast, becoming a major category 3 storm capable of "devastating damage" which the state's governor warned could be the worst in decades.
A category 3 storm with winds near 120mph, Michael is expected to strengthen further when it hits the Florida Panhandle, or Florida Big Bend, in the northwest, meteorologists warn.
The storm was expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon, bringing hurricane force winds, a "life-threatening storm surge" and heavy rainfall, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.
Rick Knabb, a former NHC head, urged locals in Michael's path to waste no time in evacuating. "Michael could be one of the worst hurricanes to ever strike the Florida Big Bend/Florida Panhandle region," he warned.
In its bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said: “Strengthening is expected overnight and on Wednesday, and Michael is forecast to be near category four strength when it makes landfall.”
The NHC warns that some regions of Florida may see storm surges of up to 12ft.
It said that at 00:00 GMT on Wednesday, the eye of the storm was about 255 miles south of Panama City, Florida.
Michael is currently moving northwards at 12mph.
More than 370,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in Florida, and Florida, Alabama and Georgia have declared states of emergency.
Governor Rick Scott, who has activated 2,500 members of the National Guard in response, echoed Mr. Knabb's assessment, saying that "Hurricane Michael poses a deadly threat (as the) most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades." At least thirteen people have reportedly died in Central America due to the storm.
Panama City Beach fire department chief Larry Couch urged residents to evacuate.
"If they decide to stay, there will be a point where we can't get to them," Couch said. "We will shut down operations at a certain point and when we do that, they're on their own.”
"Be safe and leave," he said.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"It is imperative that you heed the directions of your State and Local Officials. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" President Trump tweeted.