Richmond city offices closing early in anticipation of Michael

Richmond city offices closing early in anticipation of Michael
10 a.m. update: Tornado watch issued as Michael threatens NC
Tropical Storm Michael is accelerating through Virginia with gusty winds and flooding rain. Extreme rainfall totals may occur in either of those states through early Friday as Michael swings out into the Atlantic. 

Michael made landfall as a catastrophic, unprecedented Florida Panhandle Category 4 hurricane early during the afternoon of Oct. 10. 

Hurricane Michael intensified right up to its landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, around 12:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday as a high-end Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibars.

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Video: Storm destruction in Virginia, North Carolina

Michael was the third most intense continental U.S. landfall by pressure and fourth strongest by maximum sustained winds on record. Michael was also the most intense Florida Panhandle landfall on record, the first Category 4 hurricane to do so in records dating to the mid-19th century.

The National Hurricane Center's Storm Surge Unit, estimated peak storm surge inundation of 9 to 14 feet above ground likely occurred from Mexico Beach through Apalachee Bay, a location notorious for storm surge even from less intense tropical cyclones. 

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when the winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home. One of the carports legs punctured the roof and hit her in the head. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his car.

Michael's storm surge produced a peak inundation of 7.72 feet above ground level at Apalachicola, Florida, Wednesday afternoon, smashing the previous record of 6.43 feet above ground set during Hurricane Dennis in July 2005. 

At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasnt done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

Peak inundation of 5.31 feet above ground at Panama City, Florida, was second only to Hurricane Opal in 1995. Cedar Key, Florida, saw peak inundation of just over 4 feet Wednesday afternoon.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and rescue crews struggling to make their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have stayed behind.

An observing site near Tyndall Air Force Base, east of Panama City, measured a wind gust to 129 mph early Wednesday afternoon, and a gust to 107 mph was reported 1 mile south of Panama City.

As the storm made its way inland, it caused havoc in Georgia, spinning off possible tornadoes and taking down power lines and trees. Forecasters said it could drop up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain over the Carolinas and Virginia before pushing out to sea Thursday night.

At one time, it was estimated over 200 roads in the city of Tallahassee were blocked by fallen trees.

Why people didnt evacuate is something we should be studying, said Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a former Florida state emergency management chief. Is there more the government can do? But we ask that every time.

A weather reporting station deployed by Weatherflow and the University of Florida measured a surface pressure from 920-929 millibars, an extraordinarily low pressure to measure on U.S. soil, before it was toppled, according to Shea Gibson, WeatherFlow, Inc. meteorologist.

Michael also shattered Panama City's all-time low pressure record, which had stood from Hurricane Kate in 1985. 

– Florida: 129 mph at Tyndall AFB; 89 mph in Apalachicola; 71 mph in Tallahassee- Alabama: 68 mph in Dothan- Georgia: 115 mph in Donalsonville; 70 mph in Albany- South Carolina: 55 mph in Myrtle Beach; 52 mph near Charleston

Some of the worst damage was in Mexico Beach, where the hurricane crashed ashore Wednesday as a Category 4 monster with 250 kph winds and a storm surge of 2.7 meters. Video from a drone revealed widespread devastation across the town of about 1,000 people.

Winds gusted to 50-55 mph, at times, in Augusta, Georgia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Thursday morning. There have been a number of reports of trees and power lines downed in eastern Georgia and South Carolina, including in the Columbia metro area.

In Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs had been peeled off and carried away. Aluminum siding was shredded to ribbons. Homes were split open by fallen trees.

Rainfall from Michael has now topped 6 inches in a few locations, but has been held down somewhat, primarily due to Michael's more rapid forward movement compared to Florence. Here are some notable rainfall totals by state:

– Florida: 5.26 inches at Sumatra; 3.17 inches in Tallahassee; 2.61 inches in Panama City- Alabama: 5.54 inches in Ozark; 4.92 inches in Dothan; 1.60 inches in Montgomery- Georgia: 6.48 inches near Powder Springs; 3.37 inches in Macon- South Carolina: 6.01 inches near Hartsville; 4.47 inches in Columbia- North Carolina: 9.62 inches near Black Mountain; 6.75 inches near Boone; 2.95 inches in Asheville- Virginia: 5.75 inches near White Gate; 1.40 inches in Blacksburg

As thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and medical teams fanned out, the governor pleaded with people in the devastated areas to stay away for now because of hazards that included fallen trees and power lines.

Flooding was also reported on Interstate 26 and the Interstate 126 interchange on the northwest side of Columbia early Thursday morning. Ten homes were flooded in Irmo, South Carolina, requiring some evacuations.

Under a clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.

In North Carolina, a swift water rescue was needed due to flooding near Old Fort, and significant street flooding was reported in Hendersonville and Boone.

In nearby Panama City Beach, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford reported widespread looting of homes and businesses. He imposed a curfew and asked for 50 members of the National Guard for protection.

Michael first developed as Tropical Depression Fourteen on Oct. 7 east of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Among those brought to safety were nine people rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of their home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

Michael rapidly intensified from a tropical depression to Category 1 hurricane in just 24 hours ending 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 8.

National Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 survivors Wednesday night, and more rescue crews were pushing into the area, with the fate of many residents unknown.

Michael continued to intensify right up to landfall, exhibiting eyewall lightning as it pushed to high-end Category 4 status slamming ashore in the Florida Panhandle.

Michael arrived in southwestern Georgia early Wednesday evening as a Category 3 major hurricane, the first hurricane of that strength to track into Georgia since the Georgia Hurricane of 1898, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane came ashore, mostly from homes along the Florida coastline, and searched for more victims.

WILMINGTON — Tropical Storm Michael blew in Thursday to a Cape Fear region still recovering from Hurricane Florence and blew out without inflicting much more damage.

I know you just want to go home. You want to check on things and begin the recovery process, Scott said. But we have to make sure things are safe.

Michael made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane, causing catastrophic damage in Mexico Beach and other communities along the Florida Panhandle.

For North Carolina, Michael isnt as bad as Florence, but it adds unwelcome insult to injury, so we must be on alert, Gov. Roy Cooper said.

The storm weakened to a tropical storm as it tracked north, with its center passing over Central and Northeastern North Carolina.

Hundreds of cars had broken windows. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Pine trees were stripped and snapped off about 20 feet high.

In the state’s southeastern corner, additional winds caused some minor damage, with debris blowing off at least one downtown Wilmington building and the Cape Fear River spilling onto Water Street. Area beaches reported little to no additional damage along beach strands that sustained erosion during Florence.

Its been since reduced to a tropical storm but has now brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia

 “I think we were spared,” Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair said. “Nobody is in a panic out here.”

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Unlike Florence, which drenched the region while moving as slow as 2 mph, the remnants of Michael moved around or slightly above 20 mph throughout Thursday. The storm’s speed meant limited impact from rain in the Wilmington region.

State officials said 285 people in Mexico Beach had defied a mandatory evacuation order ahead of the storm.

The region’s heaviest rains from Michael were recorded around Belville, with 2.64 inches, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), but the 0.57 inches in southwest Leland and 0.35 inches in Wilmington were more typical.

“Speed makes quite a lot of difference in terms of rainfall,” said Victoria Oliva, a meteorologist at the NWS’ Wilmington office.

Michael’s strongest winds in the region included 58 mph in Kure Beach and 54 mph in Oak Island, according to the NWS. Wilmington saw maximum gusts of 53 mph.

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In Surf City, where debris from stairs and boardwalks remained scattered across the strand, Mayor Doug Medlin Thursday morning said the impacts were limited to some minor overwash on the town’s north end.

“The majority of what we are going to get is probably right now,” he said. “That’s good because we don’t need another one.”

Holden Beach in Brunswick County also sustained minimal damage from Michael’s tides and winds, Mayor Alan Holden said. Holden toured the beach strand about 2 p.m. and said some boardwalks had been washed out on the west end, but the beach had otherwise weathered the storm.

“It looks like it’s in good shape,” he said of the beach strand. “We probably lost a little bit of sand, but it’s too early to tell how much.”

About 4,400 Duke Energy customers in New Hanover and 1,400 in Pender county lost power early Thursday afternoon. In Brunswick, 2,280 Brunswick Electric customers were without power.

In anticipation of Michael, Brunswick and New Hanover counties canceled school Thursday, with Brunswick remaining off on Friday. Pender County Schools, which sustained major damage during Florence, remained closed.

Another impact lingering into Friday will be flights, with American Airlines canceling its first three flights out of Wilmington International Airport. Gary Broughton, the airport’s deputy director, said the first American flight to depart will be at 7:09 a.m. to Charlotte. As of 4 p.m., Delta planned to announce on a normal schedule and United had not made a final decision.


Posted in Richmond