Following the powerful Hurricane Florence, another dangerous storm is approaching the Florida Panhandle: Hurricane Michael started off as a tropical storm, and on Wednesday was upgraded to a Category 4 storm. The outer bands of the storm have now reached Florida’s coast.
As of Tuesday night, there were over 3.5 million people under a hurricane warning stretching from the Florida/Alabama state line to the Suwannee River in Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center. It’s possible the hurricane warnings could spread as the storm becomes more powerful; it’s already expected to be the strongest recorded storm to hit the Panhandle, according to The New York Times.
This is the worst storm that the FL Panhandle has seen in over a century. I cannot stress enough, no matter where you are in the Panhandle, it is time to find shelter. See my latest update on Hurricane Michael- https://t.co/aPoLqnUg5S pic.twitter.com/TiF6YEFE0r
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) October 10, 2018
Here’s what you need to know.
You can track the storm and get more updates from the National Hurricane Center.
As of Wednesday morning, Michael was about 60 miles from Florida, but hurricane-force winds already were extending close to land. The storm currently has sustained winds of up to 145 miles per hour and is expected to make landfall later this afternoon. The governors of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia have declared states of emergency, and mandatory evacuation orders are in effect across the Florida Panhandle.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts 4-8 inches of rain throughout the Florida Panhandle and portions of Alabama and Georgia, with up to a foot of rainfall possible locally. Tornadoes could occur in the Panhandle as well.
The Storm Surge
The NHC described Hurricane Michael as a “dangerous” storm and stated that the storm surge is “life-threatening” to people in its path. The surge could be as high as 13 feet in certain areas, including “between the border of Okaloosa and Walton Counties to the Anclote River,” according to The New York Times.
There is a high risk of flash flooding on the Florida Panhandle and in areas in both Alabama and Georgia, according to the NHC. As the storm moves to the northeast after making landfall, flash flooding is also possible throughout Georgia, the Carolinas, and southern Virginia.