Florida is braced for a hurricane 'catastrophe'

Bobby Smith boarded up windows at Jani’s Ceramics in Panama City Fla

Bobby Smith boarded up windows at Jani’s Ceramics in Panama City Fla

A category two hurricane is one that has wind speeds of between 96 to 110 miles per hour and is described as having "extremely unsafe winds" which "will cause extensive damage" according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Winds scale.

Images captured by Associated Press journalists show the devastation left in Hurricane Michael's wake.

Roads were filled with piles of floating debris. It was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.

Hurricane Michael is now a Category 2 storm and is approaching Category 3 strength.

- Powerful pressure: 919 millibars minimum pressure in the eye, the third most intense hurricane landfall in the U.S.in recorded history.

"You want to check on things and begin the recovery process", Scott said. "When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home". He said people will "not be dragged out of their homes, " but anyone who stays behind will be on their own once the storm hits.

The strongest hurricanes to hit the Florida Panhandle before Michael (based on maximum sustained wind) were the Pensacola Hurricane of 1882 and Eloise in 1975, both of which were Category 3 with 125 miles per hour winds at landfall.

In Seminole County, Georgia, a metal carport hoisted by the wind crashed through a roof, hitting a girl's head, the county's emergency management director Travis Brooks said.

"We've been through this before", said Sally Crown, who planned to hunker down with her two dogs in the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, population 2,500. The weather system has now been upgraded to a category two hurricane according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Smith could not provide details on the victim. Much of the affected area is rural and known for small tourist cities, beaches and wildlife reserves, as well as the state capital, Tallahassee.

General Terrence O Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, said some Florida residents may have been surprised by the rapid growth of the storm.

Rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimetres), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 metres).

Local officials are warning that not almost enough people have evacuated as they would wish.

Pine trees litter a yard in Port St. Joe, Fla., on Garrison Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle.

The Bahamian Consulate General in Georgia advised Bahamian students to be "vigilant" as the category four hurricane churns across the southeastern United States.

Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Pasco County, Madison County, Liberty County Leon County, Hernando County, Gadsden County, and Calhoun County are under voluntary/phased evacuation orders.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in several Florida counties and devastating effects are expected to expand far inland.

"Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and can not be compared to any of our previous events".

"Today it is about life and safety, " Gillum said.

"This situation has NEVER happened before", it said on Twitter.

Hurricane Michael suddenly became news on Monday after eclipsing its former tropical-storm status while lashing Cuba.

"For North Carolina, Michael isn't as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert", Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Six inches of rain has drenched the state from Michael with more to come, Cooper said, and water rescues are underway.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969.

Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.