Hurricane Michael continues to surprise people, and not in a good way. First it seemed to come out of nowhere as it left the Yucatan Peninsula and became a named storm in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend.
And now this morning it has confounded weather forecasters once again as it gained much more strength overnight than anticipated.
Michael is now a deadly Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and is still picking up speed. It is currently located just south of Florida’s panhandle and will make landfall later today. When it finally does reach the coastline today it will be the strongest storm to ever hit Florida’s panhandle in recorded history.
“#Hurricane #Michael is now forecast by the National Hurricane Center to reach Category 4 strength as it heads towards the Florida Panhandle. 0 Category 4-5 hurricanes on record (since 1851) have made landfall in the Florida Panhandle.”
#Hurricane #Michael is now forecast by the National Hurricane Center to reach Category 4 strength as it heads towards the Florida Panhandle. 0 Category 4-5 hurricanes on record (since 1851) have made landfall in the Florida Panhandle. pic.twitter.com/WwKSWY8FHf
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) October 10, 2018
Storm projections now show that over 2 million people will lose power today and tomorrow as Michael hits the coast and quickly moves north into Georgia and Alabama.
To rub salt in the wounds, after leaving Georgia the storm will head northeast and dump many inches of unwanted rain on already-flooded areas in the Carolinas.
Bob Henson, a meteorologist and journalist for Weather Underground wrote “Hurricanes that intensify overnight just before reaching land are the worst nightmare of forecasters and emergency managers.”
Water levels had already begun to rise Tuesday and the storm is poised to push ashore a “life-threatening” surge of ocean water that could inundate more than 325 miles of coastline.
Nearly 400,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. Michael is expected to reach such Florida population centers as Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Panama City Beach and Apalachicola.
The storm surge, which is the rise in ocean water above normally dry land along the coast, is expected to reach devastating levels. Roads, homes and businesses near the heavily-populated shoreline are expected to be inundated with ocean water as the storm surge raises the level of the ocean as high as 12 – 14 feet.
Very destructive hurricane effects are also forecast to be felt considerable distances inland as well.
“A potentially catastrophic event is developing. There will be widespread power outages, downed trees blocking access to roads and endangering individuals, structural damage to homes and businesses, isolated flash flooding and the potential for a few tornadoes.”
Forecasters made clear that Michael is not a weather event to take lightly. Because the storm came up so quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, government officials were urgently attempting to make people take immediate steps to prepare for the storm. They were also trying to get people to evacuate, which is not easy to do as most people hate to leave their homes.
The National Weather Service tweeted:
“Our local offices, emergency management partners and media in Florida are urging people in evacuation zones to move inland IMMEDIATELY. #HurricaneMichael is coming and you’re running out of time! We need your help to get this message out. @FLSERT @fema #FLwx”
Our local offices, emergency management partners and media in Florida are urging people in evacuation zones to move inland IMMEDIATELY. #HurricaneMichael is coming and you're running out of time! We need your help to get this message out. @FLSERT @fema #FLwx pic.twitter.com/cPUFoeWWJp
— NWS (@NWS) October 10, 2018
Hopefully all affected people have heard the message and are doing everything they can to be safe during this deadly storm.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.