The Latest: ‘Post-tropical Cyclone Michael’ speeds to sea
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael (all times local):
The National Hurricane Center has issued its final advisory on Michael, now a post-tropical cyclone speeding off over the Atlantic Ocean.
And, impressively, Michael’s top sustained winds are growing again, to near 65 mph (100 kph) at 5 a.m., with forecasters saying it will grow stronger still.
It remains very large, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 275 miles (445 kilometers) from its center. A gauge on one offshore buoy recorded a wind gust of nearly hurricane strength.
The Hurricane Center says threats to land are diminishing. There’s a minor storm surge still along the North Carolina coast, gale-force winds may continue for a few more hours over the southern Chesapeake Bay area, and several inches of rain is expected from New Jersey up through Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Flash flooding may continue meanwhile in the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.
At least six deaths have been blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years.
The sheriff’s office in Gadsden County near Tallahassee says it “can now confirm 4 storm-related fatalities following Hurricane Michael,” all of which happened “in relation to or occurred during the storm.” County officials say they’re not releasing names or other details yet while families are notified.
One of those deaths would be a man killed by a falling tree. An 11-year-old girl in Georgia also died when Michael’s winds picked up a carport and dropped it through the roof of her grandparents’ home. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his car.
Some fear the toll can only rise as rescue teams get around storm debris blocking roads and reach isolated areas.
Hurricane Michael’s pounding waves and winds obliterated row after row of beachfront homes at ground zero on the Florida Panhandle when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. Now recovery is just barely beginning from the catastrophic destruction even as a downgraded Michael spreads high winds, rains and flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia.
At least three deaths have been blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years.
By early Friday it wasn’t nearly over yet: a tropical storm long after Wednesday’s landfall, Michael stubbornly kept up its punch while barreling over land toward an expected exit across the open Atlantic. Forecasters say the storm has already begun shedding its tropical characteristics but will take on a new chapter as a powerful extratropical storm with gale force winds on its trek out to sea.