Hurricane Michael reaches Category 2, threatens southern US

Hurricane Michael reaches Category 2, threatens southern US

The forecast for Hurricane Michael changed little overnight with the National Hurricane Center having it make landfall between Fort Walton Beach and the Big Bend region tomorrow.

Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the fast-moving hurricane, which was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday along a relatively lightly populated stretch of shoreline known for its fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches. It would head off the Mid-Atlantic coast by Friday, the NHC said.

A life-threatening storm surge has been predicted along Florida's Gulf Coast, along with risky winds and heavy rainfall.

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Parts of Florida's curvy Big Bend could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge, while Michael also could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities as it moves inland, forecasters said.

The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain with storm surges up to 3.7m, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Marion County could experience tropical storm conditions.

Speaking alongside emergency officials in Pasco County, Scott said Monday he's waiving tolls.

"It looks like what we are planning for Wednesday is tropical storm-force winds of 39 to 57 miles per hour", said Jonathan Lord, Flagler County's emergency services chief.

"It's been dry for the last couple of weeks, so there's plenty of places for that to run off to", he said.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye off the western tip of Cuba found wind speeds rising. A shift eastward would not.

"You haven't got anywhere to go (if the bridges close)", he said Tuesday morning. The sheriff's office says Michael "has the potential to be a historic storm - please take heed".

The Weather Service cautioned Floridians not to focus on the exact track of the storm.

Forecasters have warned heavy rain could spark the same kind of life-threatening flash flooding in the Big Bend, Panhandle, Georgia and SC and have continued to warn Michael's storm surge is the most serious threat to the coast as the bend in the coastline traps destructive waves. A coastal flood advisory is in effect for Flagler County through Wednesday.

"I know people are worn out from Florence", Cooper said at a press briefing Tuesday morning.

A satellite image of Tropical Storm Michael taken Monday.

So the damage footprint of hurricane Michael will be very different and aside from the threat posed by a Category 3 landfall and storm surge the impacts inland from wind damage could be much more significant than seen with recent Florence.

The NHC said in a tweet that a "life-threatening" storm surge and flash flooding was likely in areas of the Florida Panhandle and described the storm as "dangerous".

A storm surge up to 12 feet is possible along portions of Florida's Gulf Coast from Steinhatchee to Apalachicola Bay.

A fast-strengthening Hurricane Michael swept toward the Florida panhandle Tuesday afternoon, causing Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency for 35 counties. Volusia and Flagler counties were not included in that declaration.

Gary Givens, owner of Gary's Oyster Shack in Panama City, Florida, said he was closing his restaurant around lunch time on Tuesday with the help of his crew ahead of the storm's arrival.

Currently, the bulk of the forecast model guidance has the storm tracking southeast of the Maritimes, as well as Newfoundland this weekend.