'Monstrous' Hurricane Michael strengthens

1 month ago
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'Monstrous' Hurricane Michael strengthens


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Media captionHurricane Michael may reach category three strength before it arrives in Florida

Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a category two storm, with winds topping 100mph (155km/h) as it churns towards the Florida coast.

The storm is expected to reach category three before making landfall on Wednesday. Florida Governor Rick Scott has warned residents to evacuate.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have declared states of emergency in all or parts of the states.

At least 13 people have reportedly died in Central America due to the storm.

Governor Scott called for residents to evacuate, saying: "It could be the difference between life and death."

Alabama is under a statewide state of emergency ahead of the hurricane, along with 92 counties in southern Georgia and 35 counties in Florida.

Forecasters say some regions of the US may see 12in (30cm) of rain, and storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m).

The governor called Michael "a monstrous storm" and urged residents to listen to officials.

It is expected to crawl up the US East Coast after making landfall on the Gulf Coast.

Heavy rains are forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence last month.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, warned on Tuesday that warm waters will probably further strengthen Michael before it makes landfall.

Over 300 miles of coastline are currently under threat, the National Weather Service has said.

The agency warned residents in Florida and Alabama of possible storm surges, high winds and flash flooding.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday: "We are very well prepared for the incoming hurricane."

Governor Scott warned in a news conference that Hurricane Michael is a "massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle".

He added that it is predicted to be "the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades".

Some 120,000 people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.

Gov Scott warned that he may order more evacuations due to the size of the potential storm surge.

Image copyright AFP

"No one's going to survive" such a wall of water, he said.

On Tuesday, Gov Scott said he activated 2,500 Florida National Guard troops in preparation for the storm.

The neighbouring states of Alabama and Georgia have also declared a state of emergency.

Where has Hurricane Michael hit so far?

The storm caused widespread destruction in Central America over the weekend, where at least 13 people have been reported dead.

According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.

Images on social media showed evacuated families wading through water to get to safety.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Western Cuba, including Havana, was struck by Hurricane Michael on Monday

Parts of western Cuba, which was hit by the storm on Monday, were forecast to receive up to a foot of rain.

Offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated workers, halting nearly a fifth of daily production.

Five drilling rigs have been moved out of the storm's path, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Hurricanes

A guide to the world's deadliest storms

Hurricanes are violent storms that can bring devastation to coastal areas, threatening lives, homes and businesses.

Hurricanes develop from thunderstorms, fuelled by warm, moist air as they cross sub-tropical waters.
Warm air rises into the storm.

Air swirls in to fill the low pressure in the storm, sucking air in and upwards, reinforcing the low pressure.

The storm rotates due to the spin of the earth and energy from the warm ocean increases wind speeds as it builds.

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane - in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific - or a typhoon in the Western Pacific.

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Well, we're about to get punched in the face."
Florida Mayor Bob Buckhorn, ahead of Hurricane Irma (2017)

The central eye of calmer weather is surrounded by a wall of rainstorms.
This eyewall has the fastest winds below it and violent currents of air rising through it.

A mound of water piles up below the eye which is unleashed as the storm reaches land.
These storm surges can cause more damage from flooding than the winds.

"Urgent warning about the rapid rise of water on the SW FL coast with the passage of #Irma's eye. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!"
Tweet from the National Hurricane Center

The size of hurricanes is mainly measured by the Saffir-Simpson scale - other scales are used in Asia Pacific and Australia.

Winds 119-153km/h
Some minor flooding, little structural damage.
Storm surge +1.2m-1.5m

Winds 154-177km/h
Roofs and trees could be damaged.
Storm surge +1.8m-2.4m

Winds 178-208km/h
Houses suffer damage, severe flooding
Storm surge +2.7m-3.7m

Hurricane Sandy (2012) caused $71bn damage in the Caribbean and New York

Winds 209-251km/h
Some roofs destroyed and major structural damage to houses.
Storm surge +4m-5.5m

Hurricane Ike (2008) hit Caribbean islands and Louisiana and was blamed for at least 195 deaths

Winds 252km/h+
Serious damage to buildings, severe flooding further inland.
Storm surge +5.5m

Hurricane Irma (2017) caused devastation in Caribbean islands, leaving thousands homeless

"For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life."
Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin ahead of Hurricane Gustav, 2008

Source :
www.bbc.co.uk