CNN | Hurricane Michael, nearing landfall, could be Florida Panhandle’s ‘worst storm … in a century’

By Jason Hanna, Susannah Cullinane and Faith Karimi, CNN

(CNN)A terrifyingly powerful Category 4 Hurricane Michael was poised to become the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history Wednesday, its rapid strengthening catching some by surprise and leaving anxious officials telling those who didn’t evacuate: It’s time to hunker down.

“This is the worst storm that our Florida Panhandle has seen in a century,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “Hurricane Michael is upon us, and now is the time to seek refuge.”

The extremely dangerous Michael is expected to make landfall in the Panhandle, perhaps near Panama City and Laguna Beach, in the afternoon, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Among the concerns: Flash-flooding with heavy rain; life-threatening storm surges up to 14 feet high; and devastating winds, not just in the Panhandle, but southern Alabama and Georgia.
The storm’s center had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph late Wednesday morning.

“There will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, without power for a very long time,” Myers said.

Governor: ‘It’s too late to get on the road’
Gov. Scott on Monday and Tuesday urged people to get out of the way as Michael strengthened rapidly over the Gulf of Mexico after lashing Central America and western Cuba. Officials issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in at least 22 counties on the Florida Gulf Coast.

On Wednesday morning, he said on Twitter that “the time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone.”

“If you chose not to evacuate … you’re not going to be able to get out. This thing is coming now. … It’s too late to get on the road,” he told CNN.
Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen; he said more than 1,000 search-and-rescue personnel will be deployed once the storm passes.

President Donald Trump approved a pre-landfall emergency declaration to provide federal money and help in Florida.

If it makes landfall as a Category 4, Michael would not only be the strongest hurricane to hit the Panhandle in recorded history, but it also would be the strongest storm in terms of wind speed to make landfall in the country this year.
Only three major hurricanes Category 3 or higher have struck the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

‘I’m definitely getting a little bit more scared’
Michael’s rapid intensification — it was a tropical storm in the Gulf on Sunday and a Category 1 hurricane midday Monday — may have caught some coastal residents by surprise, despite forecasters’ warnings of strengthening.

Newlyweds Jessica Ayers and Don Hogg told CNN they and some relatives were staying put in Panama City on Wednesday morning, having decided against leaving because they weren’t in an evacuation zone.
Panama City will be the first to feel Michael’s historic landfall
Panama City will be the first to feel Michael’s historic landfall
Michael’s intensification was unwelcome news.

“I’m definitely getting a little bit more scared, I have to say,” Ayers said.
They have a generator, so they hope to have power, should regular service stop. They’ve identified an interior bathroom as a place to take cover if winds get extreme.

Janelle Frost and Tracy Dunn told CNN they were staying put in nearby Panama City Beach. They said they wanted to stay to help those who couldn’t afford to leave, such as retirees.

Michael is latest storm fueled by ‘rapid intensification’
Michael is latest storm fueled by ‘rapid intensification’

“There’s so many people that live around where we’re at, and we wanted to make sure they’re OK,” Frost said. “We made the decision to stay to try and help them.”

In Tallahassee, Kaitlyn Mae Christensen Sacco said she was taking refuge in her home. She has a generator and a camp stove, and she parked her car at a nearby church lot bare of any trees that might come down.

“We have our bathroom set up with blankets, a battery-powered fan, water, snacks and the tub set up for our dogs with pee pads,” she said.

Even before landfall, Michael was sending ocean water onto the Panhandle’s shores. Water was creeping into the southern Wakulla County town of Panacea, a picture from the National Weather Service showed.

Bron: CNN

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