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Hurricane Michael: Florida Governor Rick Scott ‘scared to death’ for residents as 155mph winds pummel Panhandle

Evacuation window closes as Michael approaches Category 5 wind speeds

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
,Jon Sharman
Wednesday 10 October 2018 22:54
comments
Hurricane Michael hits Panama City, Florida

Hurricane Michael has hit the coast of Florida, bringing 155mph winds and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 13ft (4m).

The hurricane strengthened to a Category 4 storm, with wind speeds almost pushing the top-level Category 5 – with authorities warning that the “potentially catastrophic” cyclone will cause major damage.

“Our biggest concern is … the people that chose not to evacuate,” Mr Scott told CNN. Earlier, the governor warned of “unimaginable devastation” before the storm hit land.

“Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in a century,” Mr Scott said. Donald Trump has said that “we are very well prepared” for impact.

Follow our liveblog below bringing you all the latest on Hurricane Michael.

Additional reporting by agencies

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The Independent is covering Hurricane Michael live again today.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 07:14
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The National Hurricane Centre's latest update says the storm is now Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 130mph. Hurricane-force winds extend some 45 miles from the centre.

The agency said in its 1am update: "A northward motion is expected this morning, followed by a northeastward motion later today and Thursday. On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the northeastern Gulf of Mexico this morning.

"The centre of Michael's eye is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area later today, move

northeastward across the southeastern US tonight and Thursday, and then move off the mid-Atlantic coast away from the

US on Friday."

And it warned that "additional strengthening" was possible before Michael makes landfall.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 07:17
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Florida governor Rick Scott has warned resident that time is running out for them to escape to safety.

Just hours beforehand, the NHC had said flooding from Michael could affect several states.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 07:26
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The calm before the storm: A couple is silhouetted against the sunset at the St. Andrews Marina in Panama City, FL, on Tuesday, ahead of Hurricane Michael's impact (Patti Blake/News Herald/AP) 

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 07:40
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A dock is seen underwater a day before Hurricane Michael comes ashore in Carrabelle, FL 

Michael's storm surge is already making itself felt in Florida.

The NHC has warned that in places the surge may reach 13ft (4m) above normal sea levels if it comes at high tide.

" The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline," it said in its 1am update.

In addition, some parts of Florida, Alabama and Georgia may see up to 8 inches of rain - with up to 1ft in isolated areas.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 08:00
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The National Weather Service has added its voice to calls for Floridians to evacuate before Michael hits the state.

It also provided a diagram of projected wind speeds.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 08:15
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Waves triggered by Hurricane Michael's outer bands crash against Havana's Malecón sea wall on Tuesday as tourists drive past 

As Michael passed Cuba yesterday it it dumped more than 10in (27cm) of rain in places, flooding fields, damaging roads, knocking out power and destroying some homes in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 08:34
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Officials have said that despite warnings of life-threatening floods and storm surges - and police officers going door-to-door to encourage people to flee - the number of people leaving parts of Florida in Michael's path is lower than expected.

"I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when we've called for the evacuation of 75 percent of this county," Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said. 

In the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, with a population of 2,500, Sally Crown planned to go home and hunker down with her two dogs. 

"We've been through this before," she said. "This might be really bad and serious. But in my experience, it's always blown way out of proportion."

Florida governor Rick Scott has told people that this morning is their last chance to evacuate.

But he tweeted additional advice for people who planned to stay put:

And officials sent out a list of hurricane shelters that would be open for residents.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 08:57
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The National Weather Service has provided a graphic illustration of how dangerous storm surges can be - though it is less of a blockbuster than the CGI clips created by TV channels when Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the Carolinas last month.

Here, the National Hurricane Centre provides further details of where the surges are expected to hit.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 09:14
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Meteorologist Marc Weinberg shared this imagery of Michael churning off the coast of Florida.

Jon Sharman10 October 2018 09:27

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