Hurricane Michael becomes Category 3 storm, threatens Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael becomes Category 3 storm, threatens Florida Panhandle

RMS looked at where hurricane Michael is due to make landfall and found that the most similar storms were Category 2 Kate in 1985, which is estimated to have caused around a $1 billion insurance and reinsurance market loss, or Category 3 Eloise in 1975 which is estimated to have resulted in a $3.6 billion insurance and reinsurance industry loss.

As of the 4pm CDT advisory Monday evening, Michael was a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

Overall, it's highly likely that Michael's storm surge will cause erosion at the base of the dune line for 75 percent of Florida's Gulf Coast beaches.

A hurricane warning is in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Florida cities including Tallahassee, Panama City, Apalachicola and Pensacola.

Hurricane Michael is threatening more than 300 miles of the Gulf Coast, prompting emergency declarations in more than 100 counties from Mobile, Alabama through the Florida Panhandle and into the state's Big Bend region.

The WGNO weather team will continue to monitor the latest information on Hurricane Michael and will continue to bring you the latest updates on-air, online, and on social media.

Tens of thousands of Floridians were warned on Tuesday to get out of harm's way as Hurricane Michael churned over the Gulf of Mexico toward the northwestern part of the state, bringing fierce winds, torrential rain and life-threatening coastal floods.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said he's "not seeing the level of traffic" he would expect when three-quarters of the county's residents are under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders.

The first rains from Michael were already beginning to soak the Florida Keys on Monday, with up to four inches (10 centimeters) expected to fall through Tuesday.

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"This storm will bring torrential rain, heavy winds and unsafe storm surges to many areas of our state", he tweeted. "Current projections show large swaths of storm surge greater than nine feet above ground forecast across the region". "We're going to get storm surge, we have wind, we have a chance of flooding, we have a significant chance of tornadoes".

"You can not hide from storm surge, so. get out if an evacuation is ordered", he said. "It will be life-threatening and extremely risky".

The last major hurricane to hit northwest Florida was in 2005, when Hurricane Dennis made landfall at Santa Rosa Island, FL, as a Category 3 storm, the Northwest Florida Daily Newsreported.

As Hurricane Irma stalked the Keys and the Southwest Coast a year ago, Scott shepherded the evacuation of more than 6 million residents, almost one-third of the state's population.

"Residents in these areas should follow advice given by local officials". Storm surge could reach a monstrous 12 feet in some areas - enough to "easily go over the roofs of some houses", he said.

Mandatory evacuations are under way in Panama City Beach and across other low-lying parts of the Florida Panhandle as Hurricane Michael approaches. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water' and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts". He said tolls were being suspended in the state's northwest region to ease the evacuation process, and the Florida Highway Patrol is sending almost 350 state troopers to the Panhandle and Big Bend areas.

"Hurricane Michael is a monster storm and it keeps getting more unsafe", Florida Governor Rick Scott told a news conference on Tuesday.

In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week.

Interests along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast areas are advised to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Michael. Residents also stocked up on food, water and gas. That's five times higher than runner-up Louisiana, which has experienced seven October hurricane hits, including three major hurricanes, according to National Hurricane Center records.

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