Still far off, Michael a growing menace to Florida Panhandle
MIAMI—A tropical weather system that rapidly strengthened into Hurricane Michael on Monday is likely to keep growing stronger ahead of an expected strike on Florida’s Panhandle by mid-week, forecasters said.
Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 178 km/h by Tuesday night before an expected strike Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Since the storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico, which has very warm water temperatures and favourable atmospheric conditions, “there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall,” Hurricane Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane.
Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub, wrote in an advisory.
Michael’s large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast with many rivers and estuaries where seawater pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped, said Hurricane Center director Ken Graham.
“This is a part of the Gulf of Mexico that is incredibly vulnerable to storm surge,” Graham said.