Just hours after President Trump approved Florida's Emergency Declaration, Hurricane Michael grew into a major Category 3 storm just one day before its expected arrival on Florida's Gulf Shore.
“If you don’t follow warnings from officials this storm could kill you,” said Scott, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in November’s congressional elections.
Sunset on #Michael is simply stunning this evening as intense thunderstorms wrap around the core https://t.co/cVK1MPgNvT. Aircraft recon data continues to show a strengthening storm. Preparations on the #FLwx coastline near Panama City need to be rushed to completion now! #wetter pic.twitter.com/bQr4gBTSiw— Jack Sillin | weather.us (@JackSillin) October 9, 2018
Ed Vallee notes that Michael is "still expected to make landfall close to Panama City, FL midday Wednesday as a major hurricane. Final preparations need to be rushed to completion TODAY."
Reuters reports that tens of thousands of coastal residents are in the process of fleeing to higher ground to avoid the towering waves and roof-shredding winds.
But that might not enough, as Ed Vallee points out that gusts will be strong for the interior... unleashing potentially devastating waves of seawater as high as 12 feet
By tonight, Michael was already causing major disruptions to U.S. oil and gas production (shutting in around 40% of production) as it churned north over the Gulf of Mexico, and coastal flooding had begun along the Northern gulf coast from wave run up, high tides and a steady E to ESE wind.
At latest report, the NHC said the storm was packing sustained winds of up to 120 miles per hour (195 km per hour), jumping from a Category 2 to Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
As Reuters explains, winds of that magnitude can inflict substantial damage to roofs and walls of even well-constructed homes, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm also is likely dump prodigious amounts of rain over Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas - still recovering from severe flooding last month in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas.
“This is a storm that is going to be life-threatening in several ways,” said Bo Patterson, the mayor of Port St. Joe, Florida, whose small beachfront town lies directly in the storm’s projected path.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said Michael was expected to be “the most deadly, destructive storm to the panhandle in decades.”