‘Potentially catastrophic’ Hurricane Michael nears Panhandle: Pensacola and Panama City ports are closed; FMCSA issues regional declaration for the transport of emergency supplies.

Date: Wednesday, October 10th, 2018
Source: AJOT

Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4, is expected to be the most powerful storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle.

“It’s going to be horrible on the coast,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott told CNN Wednesday morning.

The eye wall is expected to hit the Panhandle Wednesday afternoon, with Panama City expected to be slammed first.

In its 8 a.m. CDT update Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was moving north-northeast at 13 miles per hour, with “tropical storm conditions spreading across the Florida Panhandle as potentially catastrophic Michael approaches.”

At 9:55 a.m., the National Hurricane Center reported the core of the “extremely dangerous” Michael was closing in on the coast of the Panhandle with sustained winds of 145 mph.
By 11:30 a.m., The Weather Channel said Michael’s winds had increased to 150 mph and gusts of 37 mph were reported in Panama Beach.

Port condition Zulu is in effect for the ports of Pensacola and Panama City and portions of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway. The ports and the waterway from mile marker 166 east are closed to all traffic, and all facility and vessel operations have been suspended.

As of Wednesday morning, port condition Yankee was in effect for the ports of Mobile, Pascagoula and Gulfport. Yankee status means no vessels may enter, transit or remain within the safety zone without the permission of the captain of the port. In addition, no transfer of cargo can take place when wind speeds reach 40 mph.
The Coast Guard on Tuesday set port condition X-ray for ports and terminals in Georgia and South Carolina in anticipation of sustained gale force winds. While condition X-ray is in effect, ports and facilities remain open to all commercial traffic and transfer operations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a regional emergency declaration allowing for the transport of supplies, equipment, fuel and people.
The declaration is in effect for 30 days and covers the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in the affected states and jurisdictions in direct support of relief efforts related to Hurricane Michael are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, the declaration states.

“This emergency declaration is needed to address anticipated emergency conditions in the affected states and jurisdictions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief,” FMCSA said.

Direct assistance ends when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce, FMCSA said.

The Weather Channel called Michael an “unprecedented event” and said power outages are expected from Florida to the Carolinas. Many could last for days.
Gov. Scott told The Weather Channel Wednesday morning that he was “scared to death” for Panhandle residents who did not heed the mandatory evacuation order.
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) is gearing up to provide assistance when Michael moves out. ALAN provides road information as well as needed donations on its website.

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