Florida St. Withdraws from Tri-Meet as Hurricane Michael Approaches

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

JUST IN: Tropical Storm Nadine forms, Michael wind speeds up to 110 mph

Hurricane Michael is closing in on the Florida Panhandle, forecast to make landfall as a "monstrous" Category 3 storm with a unsafe storm surge of up to 12 feet, officials said.

The storm is strengthening and expected to hit the Florida Gulf Coast as a risky major hurricane Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Michael became a Category 3 storm with 120 miles per hour maximum sustained winds on October 9-ahead of making landfall along the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"Although we are hopeful that Hurricane Michael will not directly impact our service area, our team stands at the ready to restore power safely and quickly for our customers and help others to do the same for their customers", said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL.

Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his warnings Monday evening during a news conference in Escambia County, encouraging residents along the coast to follow any evacuations orders as soon as possible.

In all likelihood, destruction on that scale won't happen, but the most recent major storm, Hurricane Florence, caused $38 billion of damage, mostly in North Carolina and extended into SC and Virginia.

In the open Gulf of Mexico, wave heights are expected to hit as high as 40 feet, said Kara Doran, the research oceanographer for the USGS. As the storm approaches the coastline, she says this water will flow over a shallow sea bed and "overwhelm the dunes, which are relatively low and narrow". It is expected to come ashore as a major hurricane over the Florida Panhandle sometime Wednesday.

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. Residents also stocked up on food, water and gas.

That includes 64-year-old Shannon Sullivan, who returned for ice and beer after gassing up and buying water the day before.

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas
Tropical storm warning issued for Midlands ahead of Hurricane Michael | News & Observer

Hurricane Michael satellite as of October 9, 2018.

The AAA Auto Group reported that Michael isn't expected to cause a "significant" spike in pump prices as its path remains east of most energy infrastructure such as oil rigs and refineries.

Key among these is the pace that hurricane Michael is moving at, meaning it will not drop the massive amounts of rainfall that the Carolina's experienced with Florence.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said: "I know people are tired from Florence, but don't let this storm catch you with your guard down". He said many houses that suffered roof damage in Florence are still covered in tarps and could be vulnerable to strong wind and rain.

The Florida Peninsula, eastern mid Atlantic and southern New England coast could see as much as 3 inches of rain. However, there's still a chance that track changes and Michael brings its heavy rain right through the region. Bill Nelson, said a "wall of water" could cause major destruction along the Panhandle.

The last major hurricane to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane center data. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger than that, Wakulla County residents were urged to evacuate inland.

The speed of the storm - Michael was moving north at 12 miles per hour - gave many people a dwindling window of time to prepare or flee before the arrival of damaging wind, rain, and flooding. The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend on Wednesday before crossing Georgia and the Carolinas as a weaker storm.

And, by the way, 50 percent of the fatalities in a tropical system is actually the storm surge.

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