Officials along the projected path of Hurricane Michael are warning locals to prepare for a major storm in coming days.
According to WFOR, experts believe the storm could continue to strengthen as it approaches the Gulf Coast and threatens much of the Florida Panhandle with winds of up to 111 mph when it makes landfall later this week.
Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties across the state and deployed resources, including hundreds of National Guard members. He has encouraged those in the path of the “monstrous hurricane” to evacuate and is temporarily removing tolls from roads leading away from the area.
As of Monday night, some areas were already under a mandatory evacuation. Area gas stations and stores were inundated with those seeking supplies or planning to head inland.
In Wakulla County, law enforcement advised locals that there would be no shelters open due to the fact that all such structures were only safety rated for sustained winds lower than 111 mph.
“This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, so please take heed,” the sheriff’s department posted on Facebook.
The National Weather Service issued a stark advisory for those in the storm’s path late Tuesday morning.
If you are in the hurricane warning: PREPARE NOW.
You are quickly running out of time. Tropical storm force winds will arrive this evening, and will continue to increase from there – making any further preparation impossible. https://t.co/VyWINDk3xP#HurricaneMichael pic.twitter.com/EvQkNRavHg
— National Weather Service (@NWS) October 9, 2018
“If you are in the hurricane warning: PREPARE NOW,” the post warned. “You are quickly running out of time. Tropical storm force winds will arrive this evening, and will continue to increase from there — making any further preparation impossible.”
Local officials are warning residents to treat the approaching storm — and their response — seriously.
“We’re looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than I’ve seen in my 59 years of life,” said Apalochicola Bay Mayor Van Johnson Sr.
In his statement to the affected regions of the state, Scott called on Florida’s caregivers to ensure the safety of those who need it most.
“If you’re responsible for a patient, you’re responsible for the patient,” he said. “Take care of them.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey similarly warned her state’s residents of the hurricane’s possible impacts in an emergency declaration.
In addition to sustained winds, experts say parts of the Florida Gulf Coast are expected to see significant storm surge and as much as 12 inches of rainfall as it passes over some areas.
Hurricane Michael had already battered parts of Cuba’s western coast with warnings of mudslides and flash floods certain areas. The storm’s speed and severity are expected to increase as it approaches the U.S. in the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
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