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Hurricane Michael Approaching Florida Panhandle As Category 4 Storm
Hurricane Michael began its assault on the Florida Panhandle and Gulf Coast Wednesday morning as wind and rain from the Category 4 storm reached the coastline for the first time. Authorities say the time to evacuate has passed and it's now time for residents to immediately seek refuge.
Tropical storm conditions were being reported across the Panhandle as Hurricane Michael tracked toward the coast. A weather station in Bald Point, Florida, reported a sustained wind of 48 mph and wind gusts of up to 59 mph.
The National Hurricane Center described Michael as "potentially catastrophic" with the storm posed to become the strongest one on record to strike the Florida Panhandle. Winds of up to 145 mph have been recorded by
"Communities are going to see unimaginable devastation," Florida Gov. Rick Scott told reporters at a Wednesday night press conference.
“Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the panhandle in a century,” Scott said. The National Weather Service says up to 12 inches of rain could fall in some parts of the Panhandle.
“Flooding will be a major issue,” he added.
In fact, coastal flooding has already begun in Florida's Gulf County. Florida's Department of Transportation tweeted video of a storm surge topping a seawall on Highway 98.
Hurricane Michael Revving Up To Category 4
Officials at the National Hurricane Center are now predicting that Hurricane Michael will be a Category Four storm when it reaches Florida's Panhandle region later today. How bad is that? Category Four storms have maximum sustained winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour.
And we’re not just talking about winds – the predicted storm surge is expected to top 13-feet. Michael was upgraded to a Category Three storm yesterday and appears to have Panama City, Florida in his crosshairs.
This is no joke – no paranoia. Officials are doing everything they can to get people out of harm’s way. "A potentially catastrophic event is developing," the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Florida, wrote in a statement last night. "Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months."
- Meanwhile…several airlines have capped fares and have dropped change fees for Gulf Coast travelers due to Michael. Delta, American and Southwest Airlines are among those waiving fees and surcharges this week for customers booked to or from a number of Florida airports. Bottom line? If you’re flying anywhere in the next few days – especially near the affected region – check with your carrier before driving to the airport.
Source: The Weather Channel
Direct from FEMA:
- Visit the National Hurricane Center for the latest on the storm.
- Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov (Spanish) for tips on how to prepare for and stay safe during hurricanes and flooding.
- Download the FEMA Mobile App to receive alerts from the National Weather Service, get safety and survival tips, customize your emergency checklist, find your local shelter, and upload your disaster photos to help first responders.
Emergency Preparedness for animals: Domestic Pets, Livestock & Wildlife
Direct from FEMA:
- Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical system. It poses a significant threat for drowning and can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area. Storm surge can sometimes cut off evacuation routes, so do not delay leaving if an evacuation is ordered for your area. Three to five feet of storm surge are expected.
- There is the potential for flooding with this storm. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low-lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Four to eight inches of rain are expected, with 10 inch totals in isolated locations.
- If you encounter floodwaters, remember – turn around, don’t drown.
- Be familiar with evacuation routes, have a family communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for pets. Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms.
- Know your evacuation zone and be sure to follow the direction of state, local, and tribal officials if an evacuation is ordered for your area.
- If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement of actions taken to protect your property. Call your NFIP insurance agent to find out more.
- Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.
For a tropical storm:
- A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
- A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.
For a hurricane:
- A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
- A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
For coastal flooding:
- A Coastal Flood Watch is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is possible. A Coastal Flood Warning is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
- A Coastal Flood Advisory is issued when minor or nuisance coastal flooding is occurring or imminent
DIRECTLY from The American Red Cross
Hurricane Safety Steps
Find a shelter by visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App also puts real time information about the storm and hurricane safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. You can also follow these safety steps:
- Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
- If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary.
- Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe to do so.
- Head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
- Turn around, don’t drown. If driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger.
- Make sure you have a plan and supplies for your pets. Download the free Red Cross Pet First Aid App for emergency preparedness tips, a pet-friendly hotel locator and an animal hospital locator.
During the storm:
- Stay indoors.
- Don’t walk on beaches, riverbanks or in flood waters.
- Use flashlights in the dark if the power goes out. Do NOT use candles.
- Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
- Don’t forget your pets. Bring them indoors and maintain direct control of them. Prepare an emergency kit for your pets, including sturdy leashes or pet carriers, food and water, bowls, cat litter and pan, and photos of you with your pet in case they get lost.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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