‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Michael hurtles toward Florida

Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it moves toward the Florida Panhandle with maximum sustained winds of 140mph and a potential storm surge of 13 feet. It could potentially become the strongest hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle in recorded history.

Background

Category-4 storms are considered to be highly dangerous with winds up to 250km/h, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Last year, parts of the US saw a series of catastrophic storms including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled through the Houston metropolitan area and other parts of Texas, resulted in $125 billion in damages.

Scientists have warned that global warming will make hurricanes more destructive.

Analysis

Hurricane Michael has rapidly strengthened to become a Category 4 storm speeding toward the Florida Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center said.

The hurricane will bring “life-threatening” storm surge, hurricane-force winds and torrential rainfall.

Michael is expected to make landfall between 3-6PM. About 3.7 million people are under hurricane warnings and more than half a million people have been urged to seek shelter on higher ground before the storm hits. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the hurricane is expected to flood parts of Florida and several other states including southern Georgia and southern Alabama.

The National Weather Service warned many buildings could be washed away and “locations may be uninhabitable for an extended period” after the storm. The National Weather Service office serving Tallahassee warned of “widespread power outages, downed trees blocking access to roads and endangering individuals, structural damage to homes and businesses, isolated flash flooding and the potential for a few tornadoes.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott called Michael a “monstrous hurricane” and has declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties. On Twitter, he implored people in the storm’s path to prioritize their safety and evacuate.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Hurricane Michael will likely devastate the Florida Panhandle and surrounding states, leaving behind tens of thousands of people without power and resulting in millions of dollars of damage.