Pun­ish­ing Hur­ri­cane Michael bears down on Florida Pan­han­dle

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

TALAHASSEE

(Florida): Hur­ri­cane Michael was still strength­en­ing as it closed in on the Florida Pan­han­dle on Wed­nes­day with the threat of cat­a­strophic surges of sea wa­ter and roof-shred­ding winds, and was ex­pected to be the worst hur­ri­cane ever recorded in the re­gion.

Michael caught many by sur­prise with its rapid in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion as it churned north over the Gulf of Mex­ico. Shortly af­ter 11am ET (1500 GMT) it was car­ry­ing top winds of 150 miles per hour (241 km per hour), mak­ing it a very dan­ger­ous Cat­e­gory 4 storm on five-step Saf­fir-Simp­son scale, the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­tre said.

Au­thor­i­ties told res­i­dents along the af­fected ar­eas of Florida’s north­west coast that they had run out of time to evac­u­ate and should hun­ker down. The storm caused ma­jor dis­rup­tion to oil and gas pro­duc­tion in the US Gulf of Mex­ico.

Michael’s core was fore­cast to make land­fall on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon on Florida’s Pan­han­dle and could drive sea wa­ter lev­els as high as 14 feet (4.3 me­tres) above nor­mal in some ar­eas, the hur­ri­cane cen­tre said. The storm could still strengthen fur­ther be­fore com­ing ashore, it said.

As the outer bands ar­rived, ocean wa­ter was al­ready flood­ing parts of Port St. Joe. Mayor Bo Pat­ter­son said about 2,500 of the town’s 3,500 peo­ple were still there, in­clud­ing about 100 in a beach­side area who did not fol­low a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­der.

The two bridges lead­ing out of Port St. Joe were closed, mean­ing no one could get out now. “Peo­ple are fi­nally get­ting it, that this is go­ing to be pretty strong,” Pat­ter­son said. “This hap­pened so quickly, we weren’t ex­actly pre­pared.”

Michael grew from a trop­i­cal storm to Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane in about 40 hours. “This kind of sprung up for us quite quickly,” said An­drew Gil­lum, mayor of the state cap­i­tal, Tal­la­has­see, which lies about 40 km from the coast and was pre­par­ing for a bat­ter­ing.

“We hon­estly felt we might have a trop­i­cal sys­tem and weren’t sure where it would go and now we’re star­ing down the bar­rel of a Cat­e­gory 4 storm,” Gil­lum told CNN.

“Satel­lite im­ages of Michael’s evo­lu­tion on Tues­day night were, in a word, jaw-drop­ping,” wrote Bob Hen­son, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with weather site Weather Un­der­ground.

Full story @ time­so­fo­man.com/world

- Reuters

WARN­ING: A red flag, warn­ing of dan­ger­ous con­di­tions, is seen as Hur­ri­cane Michael ap­proaches Panama City Beach, Florida, US Oc­to­ber 10, 2018.

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