Hurricane Michael Rapidly Strengthens, Threatens to Be ‘Catastrophic’ for the Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael is currently barreling toward the 300-mile Florida Panhandle and Big Bend, where Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency across 35 counties.

The Florida governor has warned of the rapidly intensifying storm’s potentially dangerous winds of 115 mph., life-threatening storm surges of up to 12 feet, and heavy rainfall that’s expected to bring sudden flash floods.

The hurricane, which meteorologists anticipate will strengthen to a category 3 storm, will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday before it makes landfall on Wednesday and races northeastward over Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It is currently roughly 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida, reported.

“We are about 12 hours away from starting to feel the impacts of this,” Scott said Tuesday morning, during an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America. “We haven’t seen anything like this in the Panhandle in decades.”

“You cannot survive this, no one is going to survive this,” he added, encouraging residents to evacuate and comparing the wave sizes to those of last month’s devastating tsunami in Indonesia. “The water just flows in fast and sucks things out. … Don’t take a chance.”

“The potential of 12 feet of storm surge in some areas is just deadly,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott tells @RobinRoberts on @GMA as #HurricaneMichael continues to strengthen.

— ABC News (@ABC) October 9, 2018

Officials with the National Weather Service’s office in Tallahassee said on Monday that the storm “could develop into a potentially catastrophic event for the northeastern Gulf Coast.”

Meteorologist Jonathan Erdman said Hurricane Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Gulf Coast in 12 years, the last being 2005’s Hurricane Dennis.

When a hurricane is approaching, many people prepare based on previous experience.
But they’re not always right. #Michael

— NWS (@NWS) October 9, 2018

Meanwhile, 1,250 troops have been already been activated by the Florida National Guard for emergency response.

States of emergency have been declared for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, Bradford and Baker counties.

RELATED: What Do Storm Ratings Really Mean?

“This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous,” Scott said in a Sunday night news conference. “This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared.”

“The window of time to prepare is closing,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “This is a serious and life-threatening situation- don’t take any chances. If you have been told to evacuate, leave.”

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