Hurricane Michael puts 57000 Gulf Coast homes at risk

'Running out of time': Florida braces for dangerous floods as Hurricane Michael strengthens

'Running out of time': Florida braces for dangerous floods as Hurricane Michael strengthens

US Rep. Neal Dunn, whose district includes Panama City, urged people under evacuation orders to get out before tropical-storm-force winds arrived.

The Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas in addition to southern portions of Alabama and Georgia are expected to receive as much as 12 inches of rain through Friday.

Michael surprised forecasters Monday when an investigating flight found the storm more organized than expected and growing stronger.

In all likelihood, destruction on that scale won't happen, but the most recent major storm, Hurricane Florence, caused $38 billion of damage, mostly in North Carolina and extended into SC and Virginia. "The time to prepare is now".

Scott also warned caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all possible to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.

People in areas that could be affected should take no chances against such a powerful surge, Scott said, adding, "No one's going to survive", such a wall of water.

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the east coast on Wednesday and Thursday, plowing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of daily U.S. crude oil output and 5 percent of daily natural gas output, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.

"The center of Michael is 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".

The region should brace for "major infrastructure damage", specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call. The Florida National Guard has over 4,000 more Guard members available for deployment, Scott said.

In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week.

"We are now under an emergency mandatory evacuation for Panama City Beach as of 6 a.m. this morning due to Hurricane Michael", management of the Holiday Inn Resort on Front Beach Road said on the hotel's Facebook page. Because he owns two businesses in the area, Givens, who lives inland, said he was not evacuating.

Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and stock up on bottled water and other supplies.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye of Michael off the western tip of Cuba late Monday found wind speeds were rising even as forecasters warned the storm would reach major (Category 3) hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour.

Over the weekend, flooding related to Michael led to at least 13 deaths in the Central American countries of Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, according to officials.

As the storm moved north it battered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba with drenching rains and winds of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kph), the Miami-based hurricane centre said. "It's forecast to be a large and risky hurricane at landfall".

More than 45 per cent of the nation's refining capacity is located along the US Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 per cent of total US natural gas processing capability. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed an emergency declaration for her entire state, expecting widespread power outages and other problems from Michael.

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