Hurricane Michael heads for Florida as NC also braces for strike

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

Michael was now packing winds of 120 miles per hour (195 kilometers per hour) as it aimed for the Florida panhandle, the finger-shaped strip of land on the Gulf of Mexico.

With Hurricane Florence still fresh in the minds of North Carolinians, Gov. Roy Cooper urged state residents to prepare for another storm. Some southern Alabama counties were under a tropical storm watch Monday afternoon.

Michael set to come ashore across Florida on Wednesday with 120 miles per hour winds as a Category 3 storm.

Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

Hurricane Michael satellite as of October 9, 2018.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, with a hurricane watch in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Energy companies halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and moved staff from 10 platforms on Monday as Michael was forecast to become the strongest of three named storms to affect the US Gulf of Mexico this year.

The first rains from Michael already started to soak the Florida Keys on Monday.

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The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said a "life-threatening storm surge" was expected along much of the coast of the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane Michael is threatening more than 300 miles of the Gulf Coast, prompting emergency declarations in more than 35 counties from Mobile, Alabama through the Florida Panhandle and into the state's Big Bend region.

With just a month to go before Election Day, Florida voters in evacuation zones also were given one more day to register to vote, once offices reopen after the storm.

"I just got a crew that came in that are staying also and they're in here helping me get everything buttoned up, tightened down, getting the food secure", Givens said. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.

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He declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay, activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those near the coast to evacuate inland.

"The good news is, if anything, it'll be moving so quickly that by the time it gets up to mid-latitudes in the Carolinas or Virginia, it's going to get in and out of here really fast", Orrock said. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. The National Hurricane Center said that Michael's sustained winds have increased to nearly 125mph.

The sheriff's office says Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes below that threshold.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and make other preparations. "Most importantly, heed all warnings and instructions from local authorities".

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This would mean downed trees and power lines. The center of Michael's eye is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday.

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