MICHAEL THIS MORNING: Michael strengthened to a category two hurricane this morning with sustained winds of 100 miles per hour in the Gulf of Mexico.
Michael is expected to reach major hurricane status on Wednesday as it approaches a landfall between Apalachicola and Pensacola, with 125 miles per hour winds, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday in its 11 a.m. update.
NADINE has formed but will also stay as an open Atlantic storm.
On its current track, it would make landfall somewhere along a coastline that includes the cities and towns of Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, St. Teresa and the wildlife reserves bordering Apalachee Bay.
With Hurricane Florence still fresh in the minds of North Carolinians, Gov. Roy Cooper urged state residents to prepare for another storm. It also shows additional moisture before the storm arrives. It's forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades, and it will send life-threatening surges of ocean water into coastal areas along the gulf. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger, residents were urged to evacuate inland.
Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 3 major hurricane as of the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. Tuesday advisory. The storm could inundate more than one-fourth of that coast's dunes, causing flooding behind the protective dune line, said Kara Doran, leader of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Storm Team. The storm was moving north at 12 miles per hour. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions". Winds become westerly late Thursday night into Friday morning, remaining 40 to 50 knots with gusts to 60 knots, until the center of Michael moves off the coast near the North Carolina/Virginia border Friday morning.
In neighbouring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.
With just a month to go before Election Day, Florida voters in evacuation zones were given an extra day to register to vote, once offices reopen after the storm.
Michael's large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida's Gulf coast with many rivers and estuaries where seawater pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped, said Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida.
The hurricane, now off Cuba's western tip, is expected to make landfall on the Florida panhandle and affect portions of southern Alabama.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Michael was packing sustained winds of up to 140km/h late on Monday and gaining strength as it skirted past Cuba's western tip, where it is expected to dump as much as 30cm of rain, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.
Tropical-storm-force winds will be felt in the area starting early Wednesday, and mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders already have been issued in at least 16 Florida counties along and near the state's Panhandle and Big Bend coasts.
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared a preemptive state of emergency for 92 counties.
Farther inland, in the state capital, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, helped people fill sandbags.
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