Latest update: Michael strengthening; locals preparing
Bread, water and canned goods were limited Monday night at local retailers and lines were long as locals stocked up ahead of an uncertain path of Hurricane Michael.
As of the 7 p.m., update Hurricane Michael is 485 miles south of Apalachicola, Fla., according to the National Hurricane Center.
Escambia County, Ala., is under a Tropical Storm Watch, while neighboring counties to the south – Escambia County, Fla., Santa Rosa County, Walton County are all under a Hurricane Warning. Covington County to the north is under a Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch.
NWS Mobile said that the newest forecast track for Michael shifted westward and additional shifts to the west are possible.
On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico tonight, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and Tuesday night, over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern U.S. Wednesday night and Thursday.
Reports from the reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to nearly 85 mph with even higher gusts.
NHC expects steady to rapid strengthening to occur and Michael is expected to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night.
A Hurricane Warning continues from the Alabama/Florida state line to Suwanee River, Fla., and for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.
A Hurricane Watch continues from the Alabama/Florida state line to the Mississippi/Alabama state line.
A Tropical Storm Warning continues from the Alabama/ Florida state line to the Mississippi/Alabama state line.
The most extensive wind threat currently exists along and east of a Pensacola to Andalusia line.
Currently Escambia County is looking at the potential for 58 to 73 mph winds.
Escambia County EMA Director David Adams reminds locals not to let their guard down or be complacent.
“This is a fairly large storm geographically and will cover a reality large area,” he said. “Michael is forecast to intensify to a Category 3 storm – at least 120 mph sustained winds – before making landfall sometime Wednesday. This forecast can and may change. A small change in the timing of the front that is expected to steer the storm or a small change in the forward speed can mean a change – better or worse – in the impacts to our area.”