Hurricane Michael vs. Hurricane Opal: Comparing the two storms

NOAA: Hurricane Michael 2018 Projected Path, Spaghetti Models

With Hurricane Michael rapidly intensifying and threatening to smash Florida's Panhandle with risky storm surge, flooding and winds, Gov. Rick Scott didn't mince words on Monday night: "Making decisions tomorrow might be too late".

A storm surge warning was in effect from Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Anclote River on the Pasco/Pinellas county line, according to the Weather Service, while most of Tampa Bay remained under a storm surge watch.

Michael's large size, strong winds and heavy rains could produce hazardous flooding along a stretch of Florida's Gulf coast with many rivers and estuaries where seawater pushed ashore by a hurricane could get trapped, said Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on October 9 through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

Michael is now a Category 1 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour as of late Monday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades", Gov. Rick Scott said.

With Hurricane Michael churning Monday toward the northeast Gulf Coast, forecasts for Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley region indicate tropical storm conditions are possible, including heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).


The latest models have Beaufort County located at the southern edge of the storm's cone of "uncertainty" heading into mid-week.

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on October 10 and October 11 plowing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

A hurricane is considered a major hurricane if it is a Category 3 or higher, according to the NHC.

"Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially the Panhandle", Scott said.

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Michael", Deal said. "It looks like another big one", he said.

Projections say there is little chance of Hurricane Michael making a hard turn to the right, and into the peninsula.

A storm is designated a Category 1 hurricane if it reaches speeds of 74 miles per hour (119 kph) or more, and a Category 3 hurricane at 111 miles per hour (178 kph) or more on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington advised some 232,000 Filipinos in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and SC to "monitor the movement of the storm and heed the warnings of local officials", the DFA said in a statement. "Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area".

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