Michael strengthens into Category 2 hurricane

Hurricane Michael gaining strength

Hurricane Michael gaining strength

Around 3.7million people are under hurricane warnings in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions of Florida, along with parts of south-eastern Alabama and southern Georgia.

Still, not everyone is heeding evacuation orders. "We haven't seen anything like this in the Panhandle in decades".

Michael threatens to become the most the most intense hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle since 1851, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas. USA 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.

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. About 1,250 National Guard soldiers were assisting and more than 4,000 troops were on standby.

As of 5 a.m. ET on October 9, Michael's center was about 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida and 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida.

"I just got a crew that came in that are staying also and they're in here helping me get everything buttoned up, tightened down, getting the food secure", Givens said.

Here are some other facts that show the power of this "monstrous storm".

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The last major hurricane - Category 3 or above - to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis, which made landfall near Pensacola in 2005, according to hurricane center data. The storm could inundate more than one-fourth of that coast's dunes, causing flooding behind the protective dune line, said Kara Doran, leader of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Storm Team.

As Hurricane Michael gains strength and heads toward Florida, some are seeing an eerie sight popping up in satellite images from the center of the storm.a skull.

On its current track, it would make landfall somewhere along a coastline that includes the cities and towns of Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, St. Teresa and the wildlife reserves bordering Apalachee Bay.

The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday issued a state of emergency declaration for 92 counties in the state.

Florida has had more hurricanes in October than in any other month.

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