Hurricane Michael claimed its first life after roaring ashore in Florida on Wednesday, flooding homes and streets and toppling trees and power lines in the Gulf of Mexico beachfront area where it made landfall as a raging Category 4 storm.
Although Tallahassee avoided a direct hit from the Category 4 storm, Mayor Andrew Gillum said on Facebook that “our community has been pretty significantly impacted”.
Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit. As the clock struck Thursday, the storm had weakened to a tropical storm.
After initially maintaining hurricane strength while barreling inland through Georgia, Michael had weakened to tropic storm status by Thursday morning while churning northeast over SC with maximum winds of 50 miles per hour.
Long, the head of FEMA, said many Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
“Today is the day”.
Tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate the coastal areas in nine counties as the storm approached with winds of 155kmh.
Storm surges of between nine and thirteen feet are now projected for the gulf coast between Mexico Beach, Florida (just south of Panama City on the Panhandle) and Keaton Beach on Florida’s Big Bend. The base had been evacuated before the storm and no injuries were reported.
In its discussion, the center said the environment ahead of Michael was conducive to intensification. Damaging winds will also extend inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland. Potentially catastrophic wind damage will occur along the coast, with risky winds affecting areas further north, including southern Georgia and southeast Alabama.
If Hurricane Michael makes landfall as a Category 4 storm, it would be the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Dr. Phil Klotzbach.
President Trump has approved Florida’s declaration of emergency.
It was the strongest to hit the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. “It looks like another big one”.
Kathy Coy stands among what is left of her home after Hurricane Michael destroyed it on October 11, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.
The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.
Tallahassee, a city of 200,000, sits 100 miles east of Panama City. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to risky levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland. “This storm surge is coming with a vengeance”.
Voluntary evacuations were also ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties.
Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.
From a helicopter, you can see numerous homes and hotels that populated this beachside town of about 1,200 are gone.
Despite the warnings, local officials believe a far smaller number of people have in fact moved away.
“If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you could do now is act foolishly”, he said.
Seminole County Emergency Management Agency director Travis Brooks said it wasn’t a tree but a carport that hit her home and killed her.
The latest Area Forecast Discussion for Jacksonville Courtesy of the National Weather Service.
Schools and state offices in the area are to remain shut this week.
P.S. Hurricane Michael is an extremely risky storm.
Tropical Storm Michael took its drenching rains to Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday after devastating Florida’s Panhandle, killing at least two people, reducing homes to rubble and ripping up power lines and tree.
Meanwhile, the state is expecting a surge in humanitarian needs, from a lack of food and water to housing. NPR’s Emily Sullivan reports state and local governments are preparing for torrential downpours. “It sounded like 40 jet engines going off”.
“This is total devastation”, she told CNN.
SULLIVAN: That’s Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Scott said he talked to Trump early Thursday. He’s committed to providing any federal resources Florida may need.
Tropical storm watches and warnings were raised along the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon.
“When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home”, he said. He spoke to WUFT. “You couldn’t see anything anywhere”. You have rain. You have wind.
Hurricane Michael is expected to hit Georgia and the Carolinas, which is only just recovering from widespread flooding unleashed by the powerful Hurricane Florence last month.