Category 4 Hurricane Michael Could be Strongest Storm to Hit Florida Panhandle in Recorded History
If it retains its strength, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said it could be the strongest hurricane to hit the Panhandle in recorded history. It could also be the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. this year.
NHC Director Ken Graham will provide a Facebook Live broadcast regarding Category 4 Hurricane #Michael at 8:45 a.m.… https://t.co/S1ByYYs4UF— National Hurricane Center (@National Hurricane Center)1539173627.0
"I guess it's the worst case scenario. I don't think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle," meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com told The Associated Press. "This is going to have structure damaging winds along the coast and hurricane force winds inland."The National Hurricane Center called the storm "extremely dangerous" and "life threatening."
The National Hurricane Center called the storm "extremely dangerous" and "life threatening."
Florida officials ordered about 375,000 people living in 22 counties from the Panhandle into north central Florida to evacuate, but Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford expressed concern that not enough people were following the order.
"I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when we've called for the evacuation of 75 percent of this county," he told The Associated Press.
The National Hurricane Center warned that the stretch of the Florida Gulf Coast from Mexico to Keaton Beach could see a storm surge of 9 to 13 feet.
Florida Governor Rick Scott took to Twitter to urge people to evacuate. "The decisions you & your family make over the coming hours could be the difference between life & death," he wrote.
Families under mandatory evacuation in the Panhandle and Big Bend need to move inland RIGHT NOW. The decisions you… https://t.co/mqAXqvkgan— Rick Scott (@Rick Scott)1539142323.0
He further warned the storm surge "means that the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses," CNN reported.
His opponent in the Florida Senate race, Democrat Bill Nelson, agreed with him on the issue of evacuation.
"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area," Nelson said on CNN, The Associated Press reported.
Scott has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties and mobilized 2,500 members of the National Guard, CNN reported.
In addition to the storm surge, Michael could bring 12 inches of rain to Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend, as well as southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia. Southern Virginia, as well as parts of the Carolinas recently inundated by rainfall from Hurricane Florence, could get up to six inches of rain.
Strong winds are also predicted for Florida, southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia, and the storm could spawn tornadoes Wednesday and Thursday.
The Florida Panhandle has only seen three major hurricanes in the past half-century: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.
#Florida Prepares for #Michael to Make Landfall as #Hurricane #HurricaneMichael #ExtremeWeather… https://t.co/7K1hqg5C5g— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1539004223.0
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Airborne Particles Are Still the Biggest Problem<p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-it-matters-that-the-coronavirus-is-changing-and-what-this-means-for-vaccine-effectiveness-152383" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 variants</a> are believed to spread primarily through the air rather than on surfaces.</p><p>When someone with the coronavirus in their respiratory tract coughs, talks, sings or even just breathes, infectious respiratory droplets can be expelled into the air. These droplets are tiny, predominantly in the range of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021850211001200?casa_token=KtyrsEfbeqcAAAAA:vv10sSxm33tzg0EQvNMIFtV7GCu5gE9QAzuyzHKr2_4Cl0OFkUJoGwzn4d0ZnEWS19NsOTuH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1-100 micrometers</a>. For comparison, a human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter.</p><p>The larger droplets fall to the ground quickly, rarely traveling farther than 6 feet from the source. The bigger problem for disease transmission is the tiniest droplets – those less than 10 micrometers in diameter – which can remain suspended in the air as aerosols for <a href="https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/50/5/693/325466" target="_blank">hours at a time</a>.</p>
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What Can You Do to Stay Safe?<p>1) Pay attention to the type of face mask you use, and how it fits.</p><p>Most off-the-shelf face coverings are not 100% effective at preventing droplet emission. With the new variant spreading more easily and likely infectious at lower concentrations, it's important to select coverings with materials that are most effective at stopping droplet spread.</p><p>When available, N95 and surgical masks consistently perform the best. Otherwise, face coverings that use <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352431620301802?casa_token=-Dj6nGBAm24AAAAA:qq9BpbzCKaPDFcV73ohA2fCnhE_Zlkss6Bei3kUwq9QYndhHj0Vafbbd-ef_855lx6knDfUt" target="_blank">multiple layers of material</a> are preferable. Ideally, the material should be a tight weave. High thread count cotton sheets are an example. Proper fit is also crucial, as gaps around the nose and mouth can <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsnano.0c03252" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decrease the effectiveness by 50%</a>.</p><p>2) Follow social distancing guidelines.</p><p>While the current social distancing guidelines are not perfect – <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-a-smoky-bar-can-teach-us-about-the-6-foot-rule-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-145517" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">6 feet isn't always enough</a> – they do offer a useful starting point. Because aerosol concentrations levels and infectivity are highest in the space immediately surrounding anyone with the virus, increasing physical distancing can help reduce risk. Remember that people are infectious <a href="https://medical.mit.edu/faqs/COVID-19#faq-10" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">before they start showing symptoms</a>, and they many never show symptoms, so don't count on seeing signs of illness.</p><p>3) Think carefully about the environment when entering an enclosed area, both the ventilation and how people interact.</p><p>Limiting the size of gatherings helps reduce the potential for exposure. Controlling indoor environments in other ways can also be a highly effective strategy for reducing risk. This includes <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-a-smoky-bar-can-teach-us-about-the-6-foot-rule-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-145517" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increasing ventilation rates</a> to bring in <a href="https://theconversation.com/keeping-indoor-air-clean-can-reduce-the-chance-of-spreading-coronavirus-149512" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fresh air and filtering existing air</a> to dilute aerosol concentrations.</p><p>On a personal level, it is helpful to pay attention to the types of interactions that are taking place. For example, many individuals shouting can create a higher risk than one individual speaking. In all cases, it's important to minimize the amount of time spent indoors with others.</p><p>The CDC has warned that B.1.1.7 could <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7003e2.htm?s_cid=mm7003e2_w" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant</a> in the U.S. by March. Other fast-spreading variants have also been found in <a href="https://virological.org/t/genomic-characterisation-of-an-emergent-sars-cov-2-lineage-in-manaus-preliminary-findings/586" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brazil</a> and <a href="https://www.who.int/csr/don/31-december-2020-sars-cov2-variants/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">South Africa</a>. Increased vigilance and complying with health guidelines should continue to be of highest priority.</p>
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