The task force will be responsible for wide-area and swift water search and rescue efforts.
Hurricane Michael, a “major” Category 3 storm, was becoming “better organized” and is forecast to intensify as it barrels towards Florida’s Gulf Coast, where it’s expected to make landfall, officials said.
Forecasters say Michael is continuing to strengthen as it moves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico through Tuesday night.
In an 8 a.m. update Tuesday, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Michael had strengthened to a Cat 2 storm with sustained winds of 100 miles per hour after appearing to take a brief pause in strengthening overnight, likely due to dry air and upper level wind shear.
Residents of Florida’s Panhandle frantically filled sandbags, boarded up homes and secured boats in harbours Monday as they anxiously awaited Hurricane Michael, which forecasters warned could smash into the northeast Gulf Coast as a unsafe major hurricane within days.
Residents of the USA state of Florida are boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from Hurricane Michael, forecast to slam ashore midweek with life-threatening waves, winds and rains.
“You could see storm surge 10 to 12 miles inland”, said National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.
In the open Gulf of Mexico, wave heights are expected to hit as high as 40 feet, said Kara Doran, the research oceanographer for the USGS.
In Gulf County beach town Cape San Blas, contractors are pulling out equipment for a long-planned beach renourishment project.
“We’re a little nervous”, she told ABC News. That includes the Quick “N” Save where owner Harin Desai was boarding up his windows and picking up loose tree branches around the shop.
Only essential personnel were expected to work Tuesday. Many gas stations in Tallahassee had run out of fuel, including the Quick “N” Save, which was also stripped clean of bottled water and down to about two dozen bags of ice.
5pm ET Tuesday forecast track for Hurricane Michael. He said people will “not be dragged out of their homes”, but anyone who stays behind will be on their own once the storm hits.
Michael was now a category one hurricane.
The state has had its own storm-related issues too.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, and a hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.
But the saturated ground left by Florence makes North Carolina more vulnerable. Bill Nelson, said a “wall of water” could cause destruction along the Panhandle.
Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic – including Irma, Maria and Hurricane Harvey – causing a record-equaling US$125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.
The hurricane has undergone a period of “rapid intensification”, defined as a 35 mph increase in sustained winds over a 24-hour period. But Paulus added that Michael is expected to be much stronger and outages are expected to extend more than a few days.
Currently, Michael is located 295 miles south of Panama City, Florida, and 270 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida.
“Life-threatening storm surge is likely along portions of the coasts of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature Coast, and a storm surge warning is in effect for these areas”.
“The storm surge is absolutely deadly”.