Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Supercharged overnight, Hurricane Michael menaces Florida

Greg Milam in Florida. Pic Sky News and WeatherNation Image Greg Milam said the hurricane was an intense experience. Pic WeatherNation
Grady Vargas | 13 October, 2018, 01:23

The storm will go down in history as the third strongest to hit the United States mainland in recorded history after making landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 colossus with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour - just 2 miles per hour short of iconic Category 5 status.

Michael made landfall Wednesday around 2 p.m. ET as a Category 4 storm near Mexico Beach, Florida.

Some 500,000 Florida residents had been ordered or urged to seek higher ground before the storm in 20 counties spanning a 200-mile stretch of shoreline, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.

The Coast Guard had "several rescues" in Panama City, and are working to bring water and fuel from Tallahassee to needier areas near Apalachicola. The storm is about 30 miles west of Augusta, Georgia and is heading toward the northeast before it goes off into the Atlantic.

Trump, who is expected to visit the region as early as Sunday, said he would be "totally focused" on the storm but would not cancel a Wednesday night campaign rally in Pennsylvania. The fate of about 280 residents who authorities said defied evacuation orders was unknown.

He says a firefighter also was killed when a tractor-trailer slammed into his fire truck while he was responding to a two-car crash in heavy storm conditions.

Watch videos, courtesy CNN, of Michael's damage.

In Wakulla County, the sheriff's office made a list of people who chose to ride out the storm and will begin the process of checking on them Thursday, sheriff's captain Chris Savary said. The wind speed increased 45 miles per hour in just 24 hours, representing a leap from Category 1 to Category 4 - and the storm wasn't done intensifying. That could change, as efforts to assess damage and look for casualties in the worst-hit communities have been hampered by downed utility lines and roads blocked by debris and fallen trees.

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Others said they remained because road closures and police checkpoints make it very hard to get back home.

Hurricane Michael has claimed a life in North Carolina, bringing the total number of people killed in the storm to six. An eight-foot storm surge inundated neighborhoods, covering some homes to the rooftop.

The most powerful hurricane ever to hit north-west Florida has flooded beach towns, submerging homes and snapping trees like twigs.

Michael was finally downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday while over south-central Georgia. Other buildings were stripped of their walls and roofs or ripped apart by downed trees and power lines. This storm could also have some profound effects on how the sector thinks about (and models) loss potential from Gulf Coast hurricanes, as a result of the perhaps unexpected pre-landfall intensification and distance inland that hurricane force winds were recorded. "She was 11 years old, but she liked to have fun like a 5-year-old".

"You can't drive a vehicle anywhere, you can't do anything because it's littered with houses, pieces of houses", said Patricia Mulligan, who rode out the storm with her family in a condo in Mexico Beach, a town of mom-and-pop shops and sportfishing businesses about 35 miles southeast of Panama City.

Mexico Beach is on the west end of what's called Florida's Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like numerous state's other shoreline areas, with their lavish homes and high-rise condos and hotels.

Florida's government said almost 6,700 people were in 54 shelters and that close to 30,000 customers lost electricity before the storm's landfall. A driver in North Carolina was killed when a tree fell on his auto.

Where the capital markets could take another share is areas like reinsurance sidecars, which have already been seeing some losses from recent global catastrophe events, or private ILS quota shares, where investors can take a share of a re/insurers loss exposure to a storm like Michael.

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