Hurricane Michael is currently making landfall in the Florida Panhandle. It is now a category 4 storm, meaning it is the strongest storm to come ashore in the region in at least a century.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, a category four hurricane will cause “catastrophic damage.” It will cause “well-built framed homes” to “sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls.” The storm could cause most trees to snap or become uprooted and power poles will likely be downed. “Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months.” As it further noted, most areas hit with a storm this size will be uninhabitable for weeks or months to come.
“This is the worst storm that our Florida Panhandle has seen in a century,” Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said in a statement. “Hurricane Michael is upon us, and now is the time to seek refuge.”
While the storm will bring top sustained wind gusts of up to 145 mph and plenty of rain, officials are more deeply concerned with the possible storm surge. As The New York Times noted, officials are warning that the storm surge could reach 13 feet in some areas, which could be particularly devastating for the relatively flat region.
An estimated 375,000 people have already been told to evacuate the area, CBS reported. If they haven’t left already it may be too late.
“The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone,” Scott said in a statement, adding that “First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm.” But, if you can still safely leave, there are a number of shelters still accepting people who need a safe place to stay.
And those living along the Gulf Coast aren’t the only ones who need to worry about Hurricane Michael. The storm’s path will soon take it inland, up through Georgia and the Carolinas, and beyond. Stay tuned to news stations and the Weather Channel for the latest up to date information and warnings. If the hurricane is coming your way, here’s how to ensure you’re prepared.