Florida girds for ‘extremely dangerous’ hurricane

By AFP |October 10,2018 - 09:05 PM

People fill bags with sand at the Lynn Haven Sports Complex while preparing for major Category 4 Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida./AFP

Hurricane Michael swelled to an “extremely dangerous” category four storm as it rumbled toward the Gulf Coast of Florida early Wednesday in what forecasters warned was an unprecedented weather event for the area.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm is now packing maximum wind gusts of 210 kilometers, could grow even more and is expected to slam a shore later in the day along the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend area as a “life-threatening event.”

As outer rainbands from the storm began to lash the coast, the center said a monster storm surge of up to four meters is expected in some areas.

Separately, the National Weather Service office in the state capital Tallahassee issued a dramatic appeal for people to comply with evacuation orders.

“Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event and cannot be compared to any of our previous events. Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so,” it said.

The hurricane was forecast to make landfall somewhere along the Florida Panhandle — a finger-shaped strip of land on the Gulf of Mexico — or the Big Bend, which connects the former to the peninsula jutting south.

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