Hurricane Michael takes aim at Florida, state of emergency

Hurricane Michael takes aim at Florida, state of emergency

Hurricane Michael takes aim at Florida, state of emergency

Michael was a Category 1 storm, with sustained winds of up to 90 miles per hour (150 kph), and gaining strength after it skirted Cuba's western tip, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early on Tuesday.

Residents of Florida's Panhandle frantically filled sandbags, boarded up homes and secured boats Monday as they anxiously awaited Hurricane Michael, which forecasters warned could smash into the state's Gulf Coast as a unsafe major hurricane within days.

Storm surge from Hurricane Michael is forecast to be higher than 9 feet and up to 12 feet in some areas of the Big Bend region of Florida.

Storm surge is not much of a concern because forecasters expect the hurricane to move quickly across the state, Martin said.

Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 3 major hurricane as of the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. Tuesday advisory.

Hurricane Michael caused widespread destruction in Central America over the weekend, where at least 13 people have been reported dead. "We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life", Scott said.

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If it makes landfall as a Category 3 it will be the first major hurricane to hit the Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis came ashore near Pensacola on July 10, 2005 with 130 miles per hour winds.

Several people were taken by van from coastal Wakulla County to Tallahassee's Leon County to the north. Wakulla County's shelters are not considered reliable against storms stronger than a Category 2.

The system has now graduated to Category 2 hurricane status and is expected to reach Category 3 (with winds in excess of 110 mph) when it makes its USA mainland landfall on Wednesday afternoon.

Still, he dreaded the arrival of Michael: "We know its going to be bad".

5pm ET Tuesday forecast track for Hurricane Michael.

Even as the storm churned some 200 miles away from the Tampa Bay area, its effects could still be felt Tuesday as floodwaters reached the low-lying streets in areas such as Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach. "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.

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Tallahassee´s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is campaigning to succeed Scott as governor in next month´s elections, suspended his campaign and returned to the state capital to oversee storm preparations.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference. The Florida National Guard has over 4,000 more Guard members available for deployment, Scott said.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency, saying on Twitter it was "in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds & heavy rain associated with #HurricaneMichael".

Michael could also dump up to a foot of rain over some panhandle communities before it sweeps through the Southeast and goes out to sea over the next few days.

The system, which would be named Nadine, if it becomes a tropical storm, is no threat to land.

"Because of the damage caused by Hurricane Florence, and the fact that there's still some standing water in places, we have to be that much more alert about the damage that Hurricane Matthew could do", Cooper said. "The state is not taking this storm lightly and neither should any family".

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Scott also told Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all they can to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.

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