Hurricane Michael Expected to Grow into a Major Hurricane

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Interim Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer said several county and Anna Maria Island officials had a conference call with state National Hurricane Center partners Monday to discuss the county's response to Hurricane Michael. It may reach category 3 strength by landfall on Wednesday.

It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches of rain. Wind speed will fluctuate and the path will not be a straight line. The center warned heavy rain, unsafe winds and life-threatening storm surges were possible across Western Cuba on Monday as winds picked up speed on the Gulf Coast.

Florida will take the initial impact of the storm, but it will continue through Georgia and the Carolinas, bringing rains and possible high winds to some southern cities. It is expected to cut quickly across the Peach State toward the Carolinas and areas flooded severely last month by Hurricane Florence.

By the time Michael reaches the Carolinas, it will be a weakening tropical storm.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott described it as a "monstrous storm" and urged people to get out of the way.

"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.

Michael was about 180 miles (290 kilometers) southwest of Panama City, Florida.

The storm is moving north at 9 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour. A Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of between 130 miles per hour and 156 miles per hour. The Tampa Bay area is under a storm-surge watch. Michael was forecast to push through warm, relatively shallow Gulf of Mexico waters before moving inland over the northern Gulf coast of Florida.

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"That means the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses", Scott said. Winds this strong will be confined to the ring around its calm eye, known as the eyewall, and "devastating" wind damage could occur in this narrow zone. Then it is forecast to lash the southeastern United States through Thursday.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Alabama-Florida border to Suwannee River Florida.

Because of the storm surge threat, three Florida Panhandle counties issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Watches and warnings in effect. "As you get into the Big Bend area, this is going to be bad for those folks". "And then you're riding it out in your auto instead of something else".

For us, we need to be on guard for Thursday. The most recent was Hurricane Wilma during the incredibly active season of 2005.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines issued its own travel waiver Monday afternoon for travelers passing through Mobile, Alabama; Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Panama City, Florida; Pensacola, Florida and Tallahassee, Florida Tuesday and Wednesday.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties.

Manatee County also was included in Scott's request that President Donald Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency in those 35 counties in preparation for Hurricane Michael.

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