Hurricane Michael will cause life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall and deadly hurricane-force-winds along the US Gulf Coast today.
If the deadly Hurricane Michael makes landfall as a Category 4 storm, it will be the strongest hurricane to ever come ashore along the Florida Panhandle in the last 150 years.
No hurricane has ever been recorded to have struck the region at such a high level, as Michael’s sustained wind speed just reached 140mph – and the hurricane is still strengthening on its path towards land.
In fact, Florida’s entire Gulf Coast north of Punta Gorda has never recorded a Category 4 or higher hurricane landfall.
And because the reliable record keeping of tropical cyclone data within the North Atlantic Ocean began in 1851, this could mean Michael will be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the area ever recorded.
Only three major hurricanes Category 3 have struck the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.
In the latest forecast advisory NHC wrote: “Some additional strengthening is possible today before Michael makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Big Bend area.”
The potentially deadly weather system is triggering mass evacuations as the monstrous storm is already packing 130mph winds just off the shore of Florida.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned people: “THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE to evacuate before conditions start deteriorating within the next few hours.”
The dangerous storm is currently located about 180 miles south-south-west of Panama City, Florida and about 170 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida and is moving forward at a speed of 12mph.
Governor Scott also issued a terrifying warning to residents, urging them to head inland immediately.
On Twitter he wrote: “Families under mandatory evacuation in the Panhandle and Big Bend need to move inland RIGHT NOW.
“The decisions you & your family make over the coming hours could be the difference between life & death.
“If you’re in an evacuation zone, I am urging you to leave RIGHT NOW.
“Do not risk your life or the lives of your loved ones- get out now.”
The massive storm is taking an aim at a 300-mile long coastline in the southern US and a state of emergency alert has been declared in more than 100 counties from Alabama through northwestern Florida.
Storm surge warnings are in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida to Anclote River, Florida which means danger-to-life storm surge inundation will hit within the next 24 hours.
A storm surge watch is also in effect from Anclote River, Florida, to Anna Maria Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay, and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida.
On Monday night Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified when its maximum sustained winds increased 35mph in a 24-hour period and has continued strengthening ever since.
Weakening is first expected after landfall as Michael moves across the southeastern US.
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