Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the Florida panhandle on Monday, October 8, ahead of Hurricane Michael's predicted landfall on Wednesday, October 10. The orders will go into effect at 06:00 (local time) on Tuesday, October 9, for approximately 120,000 residents in Gulf, Bay, and Wakulla counties, including Panama City. Florida Governor Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and mobilized state emergency resources.
Hurricane Michael is predicted to strengthen to a Category 3 by landfall on Wednesday. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) is warning of life-threatening storm surge and flash flooding. Storm surges are predicted to reach 2.4-3.7 m (8-12 ft) above tide levels in Florida's "Big Bend" area (Indian Pass to Cedar Key), and up to 1.2 m (4 ft) for Tampa and Pensacola. Intense rain may cause flash flooding for coastal and inland regions, to include Georgia, with 10-20 cm (4-8 in) and isolated amounts of 30 cm (12 in) of rainfall expected. Areas further from landfall, including the Florida peninsula, South Carolina, North Carolina, are expecting 5-10 cm (2-4 in) and up to 15 cm (6 in) of rain.
Several airlines announced they are waiving rebooking fees, though no flight cancelations have been reported as of Monday evening. Major US carriers have warned that flights serving Tallahassee (TLH), Destin-Ft. Walton Beach (VPS), Panama City (ECP), Pensacola (PNS), Mobile (MOB), and possibly even Tampa (TPA), New Orleans (MSY), and Atlanta (ATL), may be delayed, diverted, or canceled from Tuesday through Thursday.
As of 20:00 on Monday, Michael is located 100 km (60 mi) north-northwest of Cuba and producing sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph). Tropical storm-force winds of 63 km/h (39 mph) are expected to affect the US as soon as Tuesday evening.
Michael formed as a hurricane on the morning of Monday, October 8. Tropical cyclones and hurricanes are common in the Gulf of Mexico from May through November.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions (e.g. evacuation notices) issued by local authorities, anticipate strong winds, high storm surges, and heavy rain, and anticipate electricity, telecommunications, and transportation disruptions. Individuals traveling through affected areas area advised to confirm the status of their flights. Remember that walking or driving through running water may be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) is enough to knock over an adult - and that floodwater may contain wastewater and chemical products; all items having come into contact with floodwater should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
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