US

Update: Hurricane Michael, Almost Category 4, Nears Landfall Bringing Life-Threatening Conditions

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

Michael is nearing a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches landfall along the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The dangerous hurricane is expected to move northward to north-northeastward and make landfall along the coast of the central panhandle of Florida by late Wednesday afternoon,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a 10 p.m. update on Oct. 9.

As of 10 p.m., Michael is located 220 miles (355 km) south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, and 200 miles (325 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida.

The NHC said the storm had strengthened to a “major hurricane” earlier in the day. Life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall are expected along the northeastern Gulf coast.

“A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday,” the agency said Oct. 9. “On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through tonight.”

The storm will “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,” the NHC said.

“We expect Hurricane Michael to make landfall near Panama City, Florida, Wednesday midday or early afternoon,” according to AccuWeather forecaster Dan Kottlowski. “Historically, hurricanes that approach the Florida coast in this area tend to weaken slightly prior to landfall, but little difference in impact related to wind and storm surge is likely regardless,” Kottlowski said.

The storm surge in some places in Florida could reach more than 10 feet, the NHC warned.

A tropical storm warning was issued from Fernandina Beach, Florida, to South Santee River South Carolina. A tropical storm watch has been issued from South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

Residents are referred to check the latest forecasts and warnings at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

Evacuation Orders In Effect

Residents can search by address or check the map to see whether they are in a designated evacuation zone, according to the Florida Disaster website.

The Florida Disaster website on Oct. 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Pasco County, Madison County, Liberty County Leon County, Hernando County, Gadsden County, and Calhoun County are under voluntary or phased evacuation orders.