‘Monstrous’ Hurricane Michael strengthens

Western Cuba, including Havana, was struck by Hurricane Michael on Monday

Western Cuba, including Havana, was struck by Hurricane Michael on Monday

Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a category two storm, with winds topping 100mph (155km/h) as it churns towards the Florida coast.

The storm is expected to reach category three before making landfall on Wednesday.

Governor Rick Scott warned residents to evacuate, saying: “It could be the difference between life and death.”

At least 13 people have already been reported killed in Central America as a result of Hurricane Michael.

Forecasters say some regions of the US may see 12in (30cm) of rain, and storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m).

The governor called Michael “a monstrous storm” and urged residents to listen to officials.

It is expected to crawl up the US East Coast after making landfall on the Gulf Coast.

Heavy rains are forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence last month.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, warned on Tuesday that warm waters will probably further strengthen Michael before it makes landfall.

Over 300 miles of coastline are currently under threat, the National Weather Service has said.

The agency warned residents in Florida and Alabama of possible storm surges, high winds and flash flooding.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday: “We are very well prepared for the incoming hurricane.”

Governor Scott warned in a news conference that Hurricane Michael is a “massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle”.

He added that it is predicted to be “the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades”.

Some 120,000 people have been warned to evacuate along Florida’s coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.

Gov Scott warned of more evacuations due to the size of the potential storm surge.

“No one’s going to survive” such a wall of water, he said.

On Tuesday, Gov Scott said he activated 2,500 Florida National Guard troops in preparation for the storm.

The neighbouring state of Alabama has declared a state of emergency.

 

The storm caused widespread destruction in Central America over the weekend, where at least 13 people have been reported dead.

According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.

Images on social media showed evacuated families wading through water to get to safety. -BBC

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