Flor­ida gover­nor warns storm could have winds of 100 mph

Rome News-Tribune - - NEWS - By Mike Ssc­nei­der

OR­LANDO, Fla. — Flor­ida Gov. Rick Scott on Sun­day warned that a trop­i­cal storm headed for the Flor­ida Pan­han­dle could be­come a Cat­e­gory 2 hur­ri­cane with winds up to 100 miles per hour by the time it makes land­fall in the mid­dle of the week.

Scott is­sued an or­der for a state of emer­gency for 26 coun­ties in the Flor­ida Pan­han­dle and the Big Bend area. The dec­la­ra­tion will free up re­sources for storm prepa­ra­tion.

“This storm will be life-threat­en­ing and ex­tremely dan­ger­ous,” Scott said af­ter re­ceiv­ing a brief­ing at the State Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­ter.

The gover­nor warned that storm surge could af­fect ar­eas of Flor­ida not in the storm’s di­rect path.

“If this storm hit Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge,” said Scott, re­fer­ring to two Flor­ida cities about 375 miles apart by high­way. “Every fam­ily must be pre­pared.”

Scott also ac­ti­vated 500 mem­bers of the Flor­ida Na­tional Guard ahead of the storm.

The U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter on Sun­day up­graded Trop­i­cal De­pres­sion Michael to a named trop­i­cal storm, say­ing Michael had winds of up to 50 mph.

The storm could strengthen into a hur­ri­cane by Mon­day night or Tues­day as its cen­ter moves over the Yu­catan Chan­nel, crosses the Gulf of Mex­ico and nears the Flor­ida Pan­han­dle coast some­time Wed­nes­day.

Fore­cast­ers ad­vised res­i­dents along the north­east­ern and cen­tral U.S. Gulf Coast to mon­i­tor the storm’s progress.

The north Flor­ida city of Tal­la­has­see on Sun­day opened two lo­ca­tions where res­i­dents could get sand­bags in case of flood­ing.

“While the im­pacts are still un­cer­tain, our area could ex­pe­ri­ence in­creased wind ac­tiv­ity and heavy rain­fall, which could cause lo­cal­ized flood­ing and downed trees,” Tal­la­has­see of­fi­cials said in a state­ment.

Tal­la­has­see Mayor Andrew Gil­lum, who is the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for gover­nor, had planned to cam­paign in South Flor­ida Mon­day and Tues­day, but he said he would re­turn to Tal­la­has­see to help with storm prepa­ra­tions.

The city of Pen­sacola tweeted to res­i­dents, “Be sure you have your emer­gency plan in place.”

The storm was lo­cated by 5 p.m. Sun­day af­ter­noon about 130 miles south­east of Cozumel, Mex­ico and mov­ing to the north-north­east at about 3 mph. Trop­i­cal storm winds ex­tended out 205 miles, pri­mar­ily east of the storm’s cen­ter.

A trop­i­cal storm warn­ing was in ef­fect for the Cuban prov­inces of Pi­nar del Rio and the Isle of Youth as well as the coast of Mex­ico from Tu­lum to Cabo Ca­toche. A warn­ing in­di­cates trop­i­cal storm con­di­tions are ex­pected, in this case, within 24 hours.

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