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10 October 2018, 02:31 | Ross Houston
National Hurricane Center
The NHC warned that both could trigger deadly flooding, and that residents within the hurricanewarning zone should likewise "prepare for life-threatening winds".
A tropical storm watch is in effect along the southeastern coast of the US from Fernandina Beach, FL, to South Santee River, SC, the Chassahowitzka River to Anna Maria Island in Florida, including Tampa Bay, and the Mississippi-Alabama border to the mouth of the Pearl River.
"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades", Scott said. Earlier, a Hurricane Hunter aircraft had reported Michael's eyewall was a little less organized, however they noted overnight that the hurricane had been defying all odds by strengthening Monday even while enduring wind shear.
But despite that, Michael has the potential to become a major hurricane, possibly a Category 3. Michael is forecast to retain at least tropical storm strength as it crosses Georgia and the Carolinas, so Michael's overall wind swath could be broad. Storms with winds of at least 111 miles per hour are designated as "major" hurricanes.
"It's been dry for the last couple of weeks, so there's plenty of places for that to run off to", he said.
"There's always a chance the track could shift", said Lord.
Hurricane-force winds and strong rain were being felt in Cuba. A shift eastward would not. "Take care of them", he said. During an emergency meeting of the Bay County Commission on Monday night, Sheriff Tommy Ford said people will "not be dragged out of their homes", but reminded those who stay that first responders may not be able to reach them once the storm hits.
In Volusia County, emergency management director Jim Judge said residents are looking at "breezy conditions, some rain and potentially a couple of good gusts through the squalls".
The storm rotates due to the spin of the earth and energy from the warm ocean increases wind speeds as it builds. Hurricane-force winds extended outward 45 miles (75 kilometers) from its center. A coastal flood advisory is in effect for Flagler County through Wednesday.
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He said: "Today is about life and safety". Larger surf is expected Tuesday, Malphurs said, and access ramps are expected to be closed to driving all morning and into the early afternoon.
The UG Geological Survey (USGS) has also warned ocean waves could reach a massive 40 feet in height and said storm surge could be higher than hurricane forecasters had initially predicted, reaching up to 20 feet above normal between the islands of Cape San Blas and St. George.
A fast and furious Hurricane Michael sped toward the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday with 120 miles per hour winds and a potential storm surge of 13 feet, giving tens of thousands of people precious little time to get out or board up.
Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency in Alabama as Hurricane Michael takes aim at Gulf coast.
Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his warnings Monday evening during a news conference in Escambia County, encouraging residents along the coast to follow any evacuations orders as soon as possible. Volusia and Flagler counties were not included in that declaration.
He has also activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those near the coast to evacuate inland.
"We expect less rain to fall with Michael, when compared to Florence", Kottlowski said.
Warnings have also been been expanded to the United States east coast, from Fernandina Beach - just north of Jacksonville - to SC, as forecasters fear the storm will spread rapidly as it moves inland.
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