Just weeks after hurricane Florence battered the US southeast with historic rains and flooding, another major hurricane is now bearing down on the Florida panhandle with 145 mph (~240 kph) winds and heavy rains forecast. From Ars Technica: [arstechnica.com]
Hurricane Michael continued to intensify during Tuesday night, bringing an unprecedentedly strong storm to the northwest Florida coast on Wednesday. This is a serious situation for the Florida Panhandle and downstream areas in southeastern Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
As of the National Hurricane Center's 9am ET update [noaa.gov], Michael had 145mph sustained winds, solidly in the range of a Category-4 major hurricane. Winds along the Florida coast were already rising above tropical storm strength at the time, all but closing the window for further evacuations as the storm nears shore and moves inland later today.
Perhaps most concerning, Michael's central pressure continued to fall during the overnight hours, down to 933 millibars by Wednesday morning. This is an indication of the storm's organization, and with Michael's satellite appearance actually improving as the storm approaches land, some slight further intensification is possible today before landfall near Panama City. If Michael's central pressure falls further, to 930 millibars, it would rank among the 10 most intense hurricanes to make landfall in the US on record in terms of central pressure.
Meteorologists are reacting to the rapidly intensifying storm with some measure of alarm. Mike Bettes, a meteorologist with The Weather Channel, noted on Twitter Wednesday morning that his crew was pulling out of Apalachicola, a small coastal community to the right of Michael's projected landfall that will likely bear the brunt of the storm's winds and surge.
If you are in the path of this storm, please take whatever measures necessary to keep yourself safe.