Cat 3 Hurricane Michael brings dangerous winds, tornadoes through Middle GA

Cat 3 Hurricane Michael brings dangerous winds, tornadoes through Middle GA

Tyndall AFB hit hard by Hurricane Michael as the storm slams into the Floridas Panhandle

National Hurricane Center forecasters say Tropical Storm Michael remains dangerous, even as it has grown weaker. Winds, tornadoes, flooding and a storm surge are all possible in the southeastern U.S. (Oct. 11, 2018) Associated Press

Recovery teams at Tyndall Air Force Base reported widespread "catastrophic damage" Thursday after the installation took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael, the most powerful storm on record to hit Floridas Panhandle.

The Category 4 storm left wide destruction in the state and at least two people dead. The storm wasnt nearly finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, and barreled into the Carolinas, still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.Here are some details from installations affected by the storm. For more specific info and updates, check their pages on Facebook.

A statement posted Thursday on the base Facebook page said Tyndall leaders do not have an estimate of when the base will reopen.

NEXT WEEK: A few showers are possible Sunday night or Monday with a cold front, but moisture will be very limited and rain amounts very light. More cool air rolls in for the first half of the week… see the Weather Xtreme video for maps, graphics, and more details.

"Recovery teams have begun initial assessments of the base. They have found widespread catastrophic damage," the statement said. "Recovery teams conducted an initial assessment of portions of base housing. They found widespread roof damage to nearly every home."

IMPACT FOR NORTH/CENTRAL ALABAMA: Michael will have little impact for the northern half of Alabama. Occasional, light showers are likely today… most communities will see rain amounts 1/2 inch or less. No risk of severe storms, and winds will be under 20 mph.

The command advised Tyndall residents and evacuated personnel to remain at their safe location. We are actively developing plans to reunite families and plan to provide safe passage back to base housing. Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, said.

MICHAEL NOW A CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE: Overnight Michael strengthened into a dangerous, life threatening category four hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico with sustained winds of 140 mph. Landfall comes around midday today near Panama City Beach.

Only a skeleton staff remained after the base, situated on a peninsula just south of Panama City, was evacuated ahead of the storm. The home of the 325th Fighter Wing and 600 military families received the worst of the storms fury, and leaders declared HURCON 1 status.

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In coordination with Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt will remain on limited operating status on Thursday. Beginning at noon, mission essential and recovery personnel and facility managers may begin returning to base to assess damage and begin recovery operations, Col. Michael Conley, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, wrote Wednesday. All services on base will remain closed on Thursday, including the Medical Group, CDCs, fitness centers, AAFES facilities, the commissary and the Riptide DFAC.

*A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Southeast Alabama, as far north as Evergreen, Greenville, Luvurne, Troy, and Phenix City. Winds in these areas could gust to 40-50 mph at times late this afternoon and tonight.

As Thousands Fled Hurricane Michael, This Rabbi Moved In and Is Helping Others – Poised to assist those impacted by one of the most powerful storms in U.S. history

An Eglin Air Force Base post on Facebook said that the base will continue limited operations on Thursday to conduct damage assessments and restoration of essential services. Personnel associated with recovery operations, including facility managers, may return to base at 9 a.m. Thursday, unless otherwise notified. Commanders and directors will notify additional personnel as needed to restore operations. The goal is to resume normal operations on Friday.

Cooper said officials were monitoring several rivers for potential flooding in the central, eastern and western parts of the state, though not the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Florence last month. In western North Carolinas Henderson County, emergency services director Jimmy Brissie said first responders have been busy since the early morning helping people in cars trapped in high water and residents who need help leaving low-lying areas.

Administrative leave is authorized on Thursday and anyone at Eglin should not expect services, such as medical, CDC or the commissary to be operating.

Hurricane Michael, strongest storm to hit US in 50 years, kills at least 1

Naval Air Station Pensacolas Facebook page said it was resuming normal operations on Thursday. Corry Station and Saufley Field had not posted new information on their social networks at the time of this posting.

An area within 150 miles of Gulfport, Miss., has been designated as the remote safe haven for personnel and their families who evacuated due to the hurricane. The purpose of the safe haven is to offer access to temporary quarters and Fleet and Family Support Centers at Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, a news release said. The location places families out of harms way, but keeps the sailors close enough that they may return to help restore services, if necessary.

President Trump defended attending a campaign rally on Wednesday night in Pennsylvania as Hurricane Michael raked across Florida. “I couldnt tell people that had been standing in line for a day and a half wanting to get into the arena that Im not going,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday morning.

The governors of Florida, Georgia and North Carolina called up National Guard troops ahead of Hurricane Michael.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Mobile, Alabama, said its crews have rescued 27 people, mostly from damaged homes. Petty Officer Third Class Ronald Hodges told The Associated Press that a Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew pulled nine people from a bathroom of their Panama City home after their roof collapsed Wednesday afternoon.

Evacuate or not? Some gamble on staying despite Michael

All public activities, including day and evening classes, are canceled for Thursday on the Charleston, South Carolina campus.

NHC said Michael will steadily weaken as it crosses the southeastern United States through Thursday night, becoming a tropical storm by Thursday morning. Michael is forecast to strengthen some Thursday night and Friday when it moves off the east coast of the United States and becomes a post-tropical cyclone Friday.

Hurricane Michael 2018: Path makes landfall in Florida Panhandle, 1st death confirmed

The Maneuver Center of Excellence is halting training and prepared to move trainees if necessary, according to their official Facebook page. DODEA schools are closed on Thursday, and some base facilities have different hours, according to the installations Facebook site.

The NHC said, “On the forecast track, the core of Michael will move across central and eastern Georgia this morning, and then over southern and central South Carolina later today. Michael will then move northeastward across the southeastern United States and then move off the Mid-Atlantic coast by early Friday.

Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield will resume normal operations starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, according to a post on its Facebook page.

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According to a video announcement by depot commander Brig. Gen. James F. Glynn shared on the Parris Island Facebook page, Thursdays Family Day activities scheduled ahead of Fridays graduation ceremonies have been canceled.

“All we can do is prepare for the worst and pray for the best and go from there. We will rebuild, ” said Vice Mayor of Panama City Beach Phil Chester said.

While graduation for recruits is set to proceed as planned, Parris Island officials indicated in another Facebook announcement that exact plans for the ceremonies are dependent upon weather.

The wind is definitely picking up right now, but the eye of Hurricane Michael is still about 150 miles from shore.

"Tomorrows weather and the impact it has on the base will determine if the ceremony will be indoors at the All Weather Training Center or outdoors on the Parade Deck," officials stated.

Hurricane Michael, now a category four storm, is expected to cause serious damage along the Florida Panhandle.

Video: Local first responders deployed to help Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael

The Associated Press, the Pensacola News Journal, the Island Packet, the New York Times and the Weather Channel contributed to this report.

Coast Guard crew members aboard an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, conduct an aerial assessment of coastal areas affected by Hurricane Michael near Apalachicola, Florida, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. ASHLEY J. JOHNSON/U.S. COAST GUARD

While tens of thousands of people were busying themselves with storm preparations or heading out of town to escape Hurricane Michael—which made landfall as a devastating Category 4 storm with sustained winds topping 150 mph, and was called the worst-case scenario for the Panhandle by the National Weather Service—Rabbi Mendel and Nechama Danow were just moving into their new home in Pensacola, Fla., where they will serve as Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.

Jason's vehicle took a nasty beating near Tyndall AFB (east of Panama City Beach) as the eyewall of Major Hurricane Michael came ashore. This is why you don't shelter in a vehicle during a tornado or major hurricane.

We have been in touch with people we know in the community to make sure everyone is safe, and so that we can check in with them after the storm, Rabbi Danow told “Part of our work here will be with students at the University of West Florida, a growing university with more and more Jewish students. We have already gotten to know some of them, so we called to make sure they have a safe place to stay during the storm.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Michael roared down on the Florida Panhandle strengthening into a Category 4 hurricane early Wednesday before it crashes against the regions white-sand beaches, fishing villages and coastal communities later in the day.

We have secured a number of propane tanks so we can cook on the grill if the power goes out, and we have plenty of water, ice and flashlights, said Rabbi Oirechman, who remembers clearly the destruction from Hurricane Hermine in 2016. Last time, we had major damage. Lots of trees fell in the city, and we had no electricity for a week, but we stayed, and we are staying now to offer assistance to everyone after the storm.

The unexpected brute that quickly sprang from a weekend tropical depression grew swiftly, rising in days to a catastrophic storm. Around midday it was expected to become one of the Panhandles worst hurricanes in memory with heavy rainfall expected along the northeastern Gulf Coast and life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters).

As the storm grew in strength far to the east, sparing Pensacola much of the weather, the Danows opened their three-bedroom home to Rabbi Yeshayahu and Rochel Tenenboim, co-directors of Chabad of the Emerald Coast, and their family who had to evacuate their own home Destin and another community member from Destin who needed a place to go, despite the fact that their kitchen hadnt even been set up yet.

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida. But fears lingered that some failed to heed the calls to get out of Michaels way as the hard-charging storm began speeding north over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Worried meteorologists said it had the potential of becoming one of the worst storms in the history of Floridas Panhandle.

We thought wed come to town and have a few weeks to settle down, but Hashem made our plans different, so we had to start working right away, said Nechama Danow. Our furniture is not here, we dont have anything in our house, and our kitchen wasnt even kosher until two hours ago.

HURRICANE MICHAEL: FEMA opens 24-hour command center ahead of catastrophic Hurricane Michael | WSB-TV

“I guess its the worst case scenario. I dont think anyone would have experienced this in the Panhandle,” meteorologist Ryan Maue of told The Associated Press. “This is going to have structure damaging winds along the coast and hurricane force winds inland.”

We had planned to come right after Simchat Torah, and thats what we did, undeterred by the approaching hurricane, said the rabbi. Chabad comes to a city to make sure everyone has what they need physically and spiritually, and we hope to do that to the best of our abilities.

University of Georgias Marshall Shepherd, a former president of the American Meteorological Society, called it a “life-altering event” on Facebook and said he watched the storms growth on satellite images with a pit growing in his stomach.

Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith near the vulnerable coast said his deputies had gone door to door in some places urging people to evacuate. “We have done everything we can as far as getting the word out,” Smith said. “Hopefully more people will leave.”

On the exposed coast of Floridas Big Bend, most of the waterfront homes in Keaton Beach stood vacant amid fears of a life-threatening storm surge in an area that hadnt seen a potentially catastrophic major hurricane in decades. Even so, 77-year-old resident Robert Sadousky wasnt quite ready to evacuate yet.

Video: The Gulf Coast braces for Michael: 5 things to know Wednesday, October 10

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The retired mill worker has spent more than half his life on the coast and weathered his share of storms. He chose the spot where his house stands on tall stilts overlooking the Gulf waters in 1972 after it was the only lot left dry after a storm flooded the beach that year.

While most homes around him are vacation rentals or summer getaways for their owners, Sadousky had stayed put through more than four decades of storms. No longer. Michael was expected to bring surging seas up 9 feet (2.75 meters) above ground level at Keaton Beach.

“I know its going to cover everything around here,” Sadousky said Tuesday, eyeing water lapping at the edge of a canal behind his home. He pulled two small boat docks from the water, packed his pickup and picked some beans from his garden before getting out — like hundreds of thousands elsewhere.

At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph). Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast. Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (225 kph) with higher gusts.

N.Y., N.J. Emergency Responders Head To Gulf Coast To Help With Hurricane Michael

Some additional strengthening is possible today before Michael makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Big Bend area. Weakening is expected after the storm makes landfall.


“We dont know if its going to wipe out our house or not,” Jason McDonald, of Panama City, said as he and his wife drove north to safety into Alabama with their two children, ages 5 and 7. “We want to get them out of the way.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned it was a “monstrous hurricane,” and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Sen. Bill Nelson, said a “wall of water” could cause destruction along the Panhandle.

Florida Panhandle braces for catastrophic hit from Category 4 Hurricane Michael

“I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when weve called for the evacuation of 75 percent of this county,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said.

In the dangerously exposed coastal town of Apalachicola, population 2,500, Sally Crown planned to go home and hunker down with her two dogs.

“Weve been through this before,” she said. “This might be really bad and serious. But in my experience, its always blown way out of proportion.”

Mandatory evacuation orders went into effect in Panama City Beach and other low-lying areas in the storms path. That included Pensacola Beach but not in Pensacola itself, a city of about 54,000.

Video: Bracing for Hurricane Michael

One confirmed dead after Hurricane Michael slams into Florida, charges into Southeast

Michael could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days. Forecasters said it also could bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, triggering flash flooding in a corner of the country still recovering from Florence. And isolated tornadoes were also possible.

Video: Bracing for Hurricane Michael

Lush reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Associated Press writers Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Florida, Jay Reeves in Panama City Beach, Florida, Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina and Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this report.

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