Still far off, Michael a grow­ing men­ace to Florida Pan­han­dle

StarMetro Edmonton - - CANADA & WORLD - Jen­nifer Kay

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.

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