by Jason Hopkins
On the brink of reaching Category 5 strength, Hurricane Michael could destroy much of power grid located on the Florida Panhandle, leaving residents without electricity for weeks — or even months.
Hurricane Michael is packing 150-mph winds and intensifying as it makes landfall on the Florida coast — the strongest storm on record to touch down in the area. The National Weather Service and other meteorologists have framed the situation as a “worst case scenario” and are warning everyone in the area to seek shelter immediately.
Landfall of #HurricaneMichael is imminent. THIS IS A WORST CASE SCENARIO for the Florida Panhandle!! Listen to your local emergency officials. Stay Inside & Survive!" –NWS Director Dr. Louis Uccellini @NWSDirector pic.twitter.com/EMSZbMaHwW
— National Weather Service (@NWS) October 10, 2018
Already, the hurricane has knocked out power for 43,000 homes and businesses in Florida. More outages are expected as Michael continues to cover ground in the Gulf Coast. Duke Energy is estimating somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 customers in Florida could lose their power.
Other power companies have expressed similar warnings.
“With a storm of this magnitude, power restoration in the hardest hit areas may take up to a week or more due to anticipated storm impacts.” Rick DelaHaya, a spokesman for Gulf Power, said in a statement on Tuesday. “But all customers need to be prepared for tropical storm-force winds, which could lead to prolonged, widespread outages.”
Michael is just a few mph shy of reaching Hurricane 5 status, the most powerful hurricane category. The catastrophic storm will likely mean: “A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months,” according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Energy companies are not entirely sure when power can be restored following the storm’s aftermath.
“Customers can be assured that we will work every minute to restore power as long as it is safe to do so,” DelaHaya continued.
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