'Monstrous' hurricane Michael powering towards Florida

'Monstrous' hurricane Michael powering towards Florida

Supercharged by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 miles per hour, the most powerful hurricane to hit the USA mainland in almost 50 years.

In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades.

Relatively minor flooding from a combination of king tides and 1 to 3 feet of storm surge from Michael, with Tuesday night's tide expected to be the highest.

A storm surge watch is in effect for the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, and for the Alabama-Florida border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line. The storm will then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico later Tuesday into the night.

The Gulf of Mexico produces 17 percent of daily US crude oil output and 5 percent of daily natural gas output, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.

Mandatory evacuations are in effect along much of Florida's northern Gulf Coast, stretching from the Panhandle into the area known as the Big Bend. About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were assisting and more than 4,000 troops were on standby.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

Floridians in counties where election offices closed Tuesday for Hurricane Michael will be able to register to vote the day those offices reopen. "Hopefully more people will leave".

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Yet other factors, which might have more direct implications for US monetary policy, were also said to have played a part. The US slump, which amounted to a market value loss of over £800bn, had followed shallower falls across much of Europe.

Governor Cooper asked North Carolinians to review their emergency plans and restock emergency supplies, including food, water, flashlights, extra batteries, and medications.

At 11 p.m. EDT, the eye of Michael was about 220 miles (355 kilometers) south-southwest of Panama City, Florida. Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.

A major concern also is restoring electricity after what is expected to be widespread power outages.

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. The National Hurricane Center forecast remains its Category 3 status until that point.

Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday that a hurricane hunter plane found Michael's top sustained winds have increased to near 125 miles per hour (205 kph) with higher gusts. Still looking like a landfall somewhere near Panama City Beach Wednesday afternoon.

As of 10 a.m., the hurricane watch for the coast of Alabama was discontinued.

Hurricane Michael strengthened into a Category 4 storm as it moved toward the Florida Panhandle, where it could blow ashore as the strongest storm to hit the United States this year. It would head off the Mid-Atlantic coast by Friday, the NHC said.

After it makes landfall, the storm is predicted to pass into Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency covering 92 counties - almost the entire lower two-thirds of his state.

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