URGENT NEWS: FAMU, FSU close in advance of Hurricane Michael

Photo provided by National Weather Service of Tallahassee

Florida A&M University officials have announced that its main campus will be closing on Tuesday for the rest of the week due to Hurricane Michael. Florida State made a similar announcement earlier on Monday.

Hurricane Michael is on track to hit the Florida Panhandle midweek as a Category 2 hurricane packing 100 mph or stronger winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Monday in an advisory.

According to NHC, Michael strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane around 11 a.m. Currently, the NHC is predicting a high probability of impacts for Tallahassee as early as Tuesday morning. 

The forecast indicates Michael may be a Category 3 hurricane — with winds from 111 to 129 mph — when it strikes.

“While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees,” Tallahassee officials said in a statement.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee released a hurricane warning Monday ad said, “A potentially catastrophic event is developing.”

City departments are prepared to respond as needed, and residents are encouraged to prepare as well, according to the city.

To assist citizens, the city has opened locations where residents can get sandbags in case of flooding. 

Sandbags are available at James Messer Park South (2830 Jackson Bluff Road), Winthrop Park (1601 Mitchell Avenue), Lawrence-Gregory Community Center (1115 Dade Street, opened at 10 a.m. Monday) and Jack McLean Community Center (700 Paul Russell Road, opened at 10 a.m. Monday).

Sandbags are limited to 20-25 bags per household. Citizens need to bring shovels to fill bags themselves.

In anticipation of power outages and flooding, the Mayor’s Office announced the city requested help from 20 outside electric utility crews. 

Amy Zubaly, executive director of Florida municipal electric association said the crews, asked to report in Tallahassee on Tuesday, include four to five linemen, two bucket trucks, 10 single-person service trucks and damage assessment personnel.

“We are bringing hundreds of mutual aid personnel into the city of Tallahassee,” said Zubaly. “Our goal is to have 150 crew members pre-staged in Tallahassee tomorrow.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend on Sunday and has put more than 5,000 National Guard troops on alert.

"Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane of tropical storm can be," Scott said in a statement. “This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared."

Michael was about 140 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and 50 miles south of the western trip of Cuba, the NHC said in an 11 a.m. Monday advisory. The storm was moving north at 7 mph and strengthening with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph from its center.