Hurricane Michael – LIVE: ‘Life-threatening’ storm approaching Florida hits Category 4 with 140mph winds – Trump Latest News

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Hurricane Michael – LIVE: ‘Life-threatening’ storm approaching Florida hits Category 4 with 140mph winds – Trump Latest News

Hurricane Michael – LIVE: ‘Life-threatening’ storm approaching Florida hits Category 4 with 140mph winds – Trump Latest News

Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a Category 4 major storm as it closes in on Florida and Alabama – and authorities are warning it may become more intense still before landfall later today.

By early afternoon local time Michael is expected to become one of the Panhandle region’s worst hurricanes in memory with 140mph winds and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 4m (13ft). One meteorologist, Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia, called the storm a “life-altering event”.

Up to 500,000 people have either been ordered or urged to evacuate in the face of “life-threatening” storm surges and flash flooding. Donald Trump has said that “we are very well prepared” for impact.





The UN office for disaster risk reduction (UNISDR) has said that reported economic losses from hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other climate-related disasters around the world have totalled almost $2.9 trillion (£2.2 trillion) over the past two decades.

 

UNISDR said assets were increasingly found in disaster-prone areas, contributing to a 251-per-cent increase in climate-related disaster losses from the previous 20-year period.

 

The US topped the list at over $944bn (£717bn), nearly twice the figure from China, in second. Puerto Rico – ravage by Hurricane Maria last year – Japan and India rounded out the top five.

 

The UN agency cautioned on Wednesday that the 1998-2017 figures relied on official reports, so more economically powerful countries were generally over-represented. Insurance is less widespread in developing countries.

 

UNISDR’s tally is based on confirmed documentation, meaning the headline figure was likely only a fraction of actual losses.

 

Additional reporting by AP



The NHC has issued another update.

 

Hurricane Michael is now just 105 miles south-southwest of Panama City, FL. Maximum sustained winds remain at 140mph.

 

The agency adds: “NOAA buoy 42039, located about 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, recently reported sustained winds of 60 mph and a wind gust of 76 mph.  A wind gust to 54 mph was recently reported at Apalachicola Regional Airport.”



A National Weather Service monitoring buoy has recorded towering waves 31ft in height near the Florida coast.

 

The device noted the waves at 4am local time, 150 miles south-southeast of Pensacola.

 



Mario Gisbert, the city manager in Panama City Beach, has given advice to residents who plan to stay put when Hurricane Michael hits.

 

He told CNN: “Find a good, safe room within the house, typically it’s a closet, it’s a bathroom, it’s a hallway.

 

“If you’ve got an area where you’ve got water rising, just play it safe [and] try not to travel in that water because you never know when an area’s washed out, so stay at home, stay in a dry spot.

 

“First responders are still staged here on the beach and they will monitor as long as they can. They are not going to be able to go out and help people once the storm really hits. They’ve got to protect themselves and be here to protect the people that made it through the storm, and to help safeguard people coming back.”



People in Panama City Beach, Florida, look out to the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday as Hurricane Michael approaches (AFP/Getty)

 



The International Space Station has captured stunning footage of Hurricane Michael from orbit.

 



Georgia governor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 92 counties in that state.

 

About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call.



The NHC is providing hourly updates on Michael’s progress. The storm is currently about 120 miles south-southwest of Panama City, FL, and moving north at 13mph.

 

Maximum sustained wind speed is still 140mph, the agency said.

 

Rainbands associated with the storm are currently sweeping the Florida panhandle region.



An early picture of Michael’s effects include thundery conditions and a hit to energy production.

 

Some of the storm’s most significant early impact was to offshore energy production. US producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 per cent and natural gas output by 28 per cent on Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

 

The region should brace for “major infrastructure damage”, specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters on a conference call.

 

And one Twitter user in Panama City, FL, said: “Outer band of Hurricane Michael coming ashore here. Light rain and thunder has just begun. Winds should be picking up in the next couple of hours.”

 

Winds as strong as Michael is producing can inflict substantial damage to roofs and walls of even well-constructed homes, according to the National Weather Service.

 

Additional reporting by Reuters



A reminder of what Donald Trump has said about Hurricane Michael.

 

He warned it could be “even more intense than Florence” but praised Floridians, saying “folks in the Pan Handle can take care of anything”.

 

On Wednesday morning Florida governor Rick Scott issued a further warning: “Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area. I’m asking all Floridians to stay vigilant throughout tonight and tomorrow as we brace for Hurricane Michael to make landfall.

 



The NHC has put out a handy map of where its various warnings are in force.

 



This is the NHC’s latest imagery of the storm

 



 

From the NHC’s latest update:

 

• “Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140mph with higher gusts. Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale”

 

• Additional strengthening remains possible before landfall

 

• Tropical storm warning now in force as far north as Surf City, North Carolina, a barrier community which is still recovering from Hurricane Florence

 

• “Heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia”

 

• The worst storm surge is expected between Tyndall Air Force Base and Keaton Beach – up to 13ft

 



Hurricane Michael’s maximum wind speed has strengthened to 140mph, the NHC says in its latest update. More to follow…



A senior meteorologist has told how watching Hurricane Michael bear down on the US coast has given him a “sick feeling in my stomach”.

 

Last night Marshall Shepherd, of the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society, tweeted that warnings about the storm’s intensity were not “drama”.

 

The NHC’s latest update upgrading Michael to Category 4 contained “worrisome words”, he added.

 



 

Such a storm has never hit Florida’s panhandle region, another meteorologist said.

 

The last major hurricane to hit the area was Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane center data.



Meteorologist Marc Weinberg shared this imagery of Michael churning off the coast of Florida.

 



The National Weather Service has provided a graphic illustration of how dangerous storm surges can be – though it is less of a blockbuster than the CGI clips created by TV channels when Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the Carolinas last month.

 

Here, the National Hurricane Centre provides further details of where the surges are expected to hit.

 



Officials have said that despite warnings of life-threatening floods and storm surges – and police officers going door-to-door to encourage people to flee – the number of people leaving parts of Florida in Michael’s path is lower than expected.

 

“I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when we’ve called for the evacuation of 75 percent of this county,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said. 

In the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, with a population of 2,500, Sally Crown planned to go home and hunker down with her two dogs. 

“We’ve been through this before,” she said. “This might be really bad and serious. But in my experience, it’s always blown way out of proportion.”

 

Florida governor Rick Scott has told people that this morning is their last chance to evacuate.

 

But he tweeted additional advice for people who planned to stay put:

 

And officials sent out a list of hurricane shelters that would be open for residents.

 



Waves triggered by Hurricane Michael’s outer bands crash against Havana’s Malecón sea wall on Tuesday as tourists drive past

 

As Michael passed Cuba yesterday it it dumped more than 10in (27cm) of rain in places, flooding fields, damaging roads, knocking out power and destroying some homes in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

 

Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.



The National Weather Service has added its voice to calls for Floridians to evacuate before Michael hits the state.

 

It also provided a diagram of projected wind speeds.

 

 

 

National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said Michael represented a “textbook case” of a hurricane system that may grow stronger as it draws near shore, in contrast to Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after a slow, halting approach and weakening before landfall.

Michael is expected to weaken only after it hits the coast, having drawn fresh energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr Trump has declared a state of emergency for the whole of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster response.

Michael could dump up to 1ft of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days.

Forecasters said it also could bring up to 6in of rain to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, triggering flash flooding in a corner of the country still recovering from Florence. Isolated tornadoes remained possible.


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Officials have warned residents to evacuate immediately, with Florida governor Rick Scott saying this morning it was their “last chance” to get out before conditions worsen.

Winds as strong as Michael is producing can inflict substantial damage to roofs and walls of even well-constructed homes, according to the National Weather Service.

Additional reporting by agencies

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