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Hurricane Michael: ‘Monstrous’ storm strengthens to category two

  • 9 October 2018

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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 reaching in excess of 100mph (155km/h) as it barrels towards the Florida coast.

The storm is expected to reach category three strength before it makes landfall on Wednesday.

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

Governor Rick Scott warned residents to get out of the way, saying on Tuesday: “This is a monstrous storm”.

Is it expected to crawl up the US East Coast after making landfall in the Gulf Coast, and could bring rains to 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 cautioned. The agency warned residents in Florida and Alabama of the risk of storm surges, damaging winds and flash flooding.

Gov 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 its predicted to be “the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades”.

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

BBC News – US & Canada

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