Michael a Major Cat 3 Hurricane, Deadly Storm Surge Expected

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Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a major category 3 Hurricane as it churned toward the Gulf Coast Tuesday. Multiple states have declared a state of emergency.

The fast-moving storm is expected to slam the Florida Panhandle midday Wednesday. Florida Governor Rick Scott said the storm could be the most damaging hurricane in decades.

On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through tonight, then move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States by Friday.

Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts – a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Additional strengthening is expected, and Michael is forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall in Florida. Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves through the southeastern United States. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km).

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from the Okaloosa County Line Florida to Anclote River Florida. A Storm Surge Watch is in effect from the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay, and from the Alabama/Florida border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line, Florida. A Hurricane Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwannee River Florida. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border, and from the Suwanee River to Chassahowitzka Florida. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay; the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Pearl River, and from Fernandina Beach, Florida, to South Santee River, South Carolina.

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