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For more than a week before it made landfall, meteorologists were sounding alarm bells about Florence, the devastating hurricane that slammed into the Carolinas on Sept. 14.

Yet with Michael — the powerful hurricane that made landfall as a Category 4 storm in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday — word of the storm came just days in advance.

The reason why, according to forecasters: Unlike Florence, which formed off of Africa long before it arrived on U.S. shores, Michael just originated in the southwest Caribbean — closer and fewer days before landfall.

Image: Michael, Krystal Day
Krystal Day, of Homosassa, Fla., left, leads a sandbag assembly line at the Old Port Cove restaurant in Ozello, Florida, on Oct. 9, 2018. Employees were hoping to protect the restaurant from floodwaters as Hurricane Michael continues to churn in the Gulf of Mexico heading for the Florida panhandle.Chris O’Meara / AP

Still, Michael was “no surprise,” according to NBC News meteorologist Sherri Pugh.

“The position difference changes your forecast lead time,” she said. “That’s why we could see Florence coming across. We were tracking what it would be for days. With Michael, we still had the same amount of information; it just formed closer.”


Michael made landfall with winds of 155 mph. The fast-moving storm is the first Category 4 on record to hit the panhandle in more than 150 years. Evacuation orders were issued earlier in the week.

On Wednesday morning, Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned in a tweet, “The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone. First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm. If you chose to stay in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.”


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