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The west coast of Florida woke up today under a state of emergency as the storm Michael entered the Gulf of Mexico turned into a hurricane and headed toward the Panhandle, where he is expected to whip the American coast on Wednesday.
The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, declared an emergency for 26 counties including the Panhandle and Big Bend and warned that “the storm will be deadly and extremely dangerous”, at a briefing on Sunday night.
By declaring a state of emergency, the governor ensures that the state and local government has sufficient time, resources and flexibility to prepare for the storm.
The National Hurricane Center (CNH) reported this morning that Michael became a hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometres per hour.
At 07:00 local time (12:00 GMT) the center of the storm was located between the Mexican Peninsula of Yucatan and Cuba 190 kilometres east of Cozumel, Mexico, and 115 west of Cuba.
The CNH maintained a hurricane alert for the province of Pinar del Río and the tropical storm alert extended to Cuba’s Isla de la Juventud and from Tulum, Mexico, to Cabo Catoche, including the island of Cozumel.
According to the CNH’s latest forecast, Michael is expected to make landfall as a hurricane in the Western Panhandle of Florida on Wednesday, October 10.
Under the direction of Governor Scott, the State Emergency Operations Center was activated to Level 2 this morning, which means that the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is activated by improving coordination among federal, state, and federal agencies. and local emergency management.
Scott activated 500 members of the National Guard for planning, logistics and response to the storm and said the storm is forecast to have similar impacts to Hurricane Hermine, which knocked down many trees and left without power for days in the state capital Tallahassee and its surroundings in 2016.
“Remember that this storm could get stronger and be a category 3 that will affect our state,” Scott said, noting that the winds could increase to more than 160 kilometres per hour in the middle of the week.
It is expected that the external bands of the storm will pour five to 10 centimetres of rain in the Florida Keys, the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize and the north of Honduras.
Parts of western Cuba could see up to 30 centimetres of rain, according to the National Meteorological Service.