"Extremely Dangerous" Hurricane Michael Rumbles Towards Florida Coast

Bobby Smith boarded up windows at Jani’s Ceramics in Panama City Fla

Michael is poised to make landfall on the Panhandle later Wednesday while pushing up to 13 feet of ocean water into the coast and drenching parts of three states in as much as a foot of rain.

Florida has issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in at least 22 counties on the Gulf Coast, with Governor Rick Scott urging people yesterday to get out of the way of the "monstrous storm", CNN reported. Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.

Hurricane Michael, pictured in a satellite image taken on October 8, 2018, when it was still a tropical storm, could produce life-threatening flooding.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have declared states of emergency in all or parts of the states. The Carolinas are still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence six weeks ago, and Michael is expected to be orders of magnitude stronger than Florence.

Michael was a Category 1 hurricane but could make landfall as a Category 3, and forecasters warned it could send down 10 to 30 centimetres of rain.

Among them was Betty Early, 75, a retiree who joined about 300 fellow evacuees huddled on makeshift bedrolls of blankets and collapsed cardboard boxes at an elementary school converted into an American Red Cross shelter in Panama City, near the storm's expected landfall. No longer. Michael was expected to bring surging seas up 9 feet (2.75 meters) above ground level at Keaton Beach. She was unsure how well her old, wood-framed apartment block would hold up.

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"Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said. "My greatest concern is not having electricity, and living on a fixed income, losing my food".

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for 92 counties in his state. The National Hurricane Center forecast up to 30cm of rain in Florida, Georgia and SC.

Five drilling rigs have been moved out of the storm's path, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

On Tuesday, Mr Scott said he activated 2500 Florida National Guard troops in preparation for the storm. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call.

The last major hurricane, a storm of Category 3 or above, to hit the Panhandle was Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane center data. Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

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