Science

Hurricane Michael vs. Hurricane Opal: Comparing the two storms

Hurricane Michael vs. Hurricane Opal: Comparing the two storms”

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".

Once a tropical storm, Hurricane Michael is expected to strike the Florida Panhandle with Category 3 winds of 74-plus miles per hour.

Although few forecast models were predicting it would reach major hurricane status at the time, it seemed possible given that the storm was now moving away from the Yucatan Peninsula landmass and toward warmer waters in the southern Gulf of Mexico, where it will encounter lower overall wind shear. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle.

In Gulf County alone, the first to begin ordering residents of low-lying areas to higher ground, mandatory evacuation notices encompassed an estimated 3,800 homes, said Jessica Sasich of the county's emergency operations center.

President Donald Trump, who was in Orlando delivering an address to a global association of police chiefs, said the federal government was ready and urged residents to be prepared for the worst. Michael is now a strong category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

"Unfortunately, it looks like it's coming directly at us and all you can do is prepare", he said.

The National Weather Service described Michael as "extremely unsafe", saying it will bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall along the northeastern Gulf Coast.

A potential storm surge of eight-to-12 feet was forecast for Florida's western coastline from Indian Pass to Crystal River. A separate map shows Columbus could see rain totals between 2 and 4 inches from the storm.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday, anticipating wind damage, heavy rains and power outages. It had come together rapidly over the previous 24 hours, forecasters said, emerging from Central America instead of blowing a long course across the Atlantic Ocean.

Michael was expected to make landfall Wednesday in parts of the Panhandle where county jail inmates were enlisted last week to help clean up fish killed by the red tide.

Farther west along Florida's Panhandle, the city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place". He added, "Today it is about life and safety".

The Embassy will also monitor developments and coordinate with the Filipino community in these areas.

Florida State University and Florida A&M University announced they will be canceling classes for the rest of the week, meaning many students will likely be taking to the roads to escape the storms path.

On Sunday, a tropical storm formed in the northern Caribbean Sea.



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