MIAMI • Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 2 storm yesterday as it moved towards the Florida Panhandle, where residents were ordered to get out of harm's way ahead of life-threatening waves, winds and rains.
Tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate the coastal areas in nine counties as the storm approached with winds of 155kmh. The hurricane could grow to a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale before it makes landfall today, potentially the most powerful storm to strike the Panhandle in at least a decade.
Florida Governor Rick Scott told ABC's Good Morning America programme yesterday that the effects of the storm would not be felt for another 12 hours and warned of the potential deadly impact of what could be a 3.7m coastal storm surge.
Asked if there would be more evacuation orders, he said officials were monitoring the situation but that people in potentially affected areas should not take any chances against such a large storm surge. "No one's going to survive (such a wall of water)," he said.