Florida braces for Monster Storm

CAIRO, Oct. 10 (SEE) – Evacuations were made as Florida state braces for hurricane ‘Michael’ which grew into a potentially deadly Category 4 storm on Wednesday.

‘Michael’ is expected to smash into Florida’s Gulf shore with towering waves and roof-shredding winds as 500,000 people were under evacuation orders and advisories, according to Reuters.

The hurricane was packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour (220 km per hour), hours before it was set to make landfall on Florida’s Panhandle or Florida’s Big Bend where it potentially could unleash devastating waves as high as 13 feet (4 meters), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.

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

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.

NHC Director Ken Graham said Michael represented a “textbook case” of a hurricane system growing stronger as it drew near shore, in contrast to Hurricane Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after weakening in a slow, halting approach.

The storm is likely to dump prodigious amounts of rain over Florida, Alabama and Georgia, as well as the Carolinas – still reeling from post-Florence flooding – and into Virginia. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas.

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 (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call.

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