Ferocious Wilma heads for southwest Florida

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Officials began clearing tens of thousands of people out of the low-lying Florida Keys. “We had well over 1,000 lives lost in Katrina. If Wilma … comes into the U.S., to the Florida coast as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that potential for large loss of life is with us,” National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said. At one point, Wilma was the most intense hurricane recorded in the Atlantic as measured by its pressure. Early Wednesday, the storm’s pressure dropped to 882 millibars, the lowest reading ever in an Atlantic-basin hurricane. Typically, the lower the pressure, the faster air rushes into a storm. By evening, Wilma had weakened slightly, with its winds dropping from 175 mph, and its pressure rising to 892 millibars. The previous strongest Atlantic storm on record, based on pressure readings, had been Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which registered 888 millibars. NAPLES, Fla. – In what has become an all-too-familiar drill, Floridians boarded up windows, gassed up their cars and bought storm supplies Wednesday. But this time they were looking at one of the most intense hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic. Hurricane Wilma exploded into a Category 5 monster with winds of 160 mph, and forecasters warned it could smash into southwestern Florida on Saturday with towering waves, and then work its way up the East Coast with devastating effect. “I don’t think I want to live in Florida,” said Betty Bartelson, a Pennsylvania tourist visiting Marco Island. She planned to flee across the state to Fort Lauderdale. Like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita earlier this season, Wilma was expected to weaken before coming ashore. But after seeing what those storms did – and after four storms hit Florida in quick succession last year – many people were taking no chances. Forecasters said late Wednesday that the storm was expected to turn to the northwest over the next 24 hours. Its forward motion also appeared to be slowing somewhat, which could weaken the hurricane further and possibly delay Wilma’s landfall until Saturday evening, Mayfield said. Wilma was on a path that could threaten the areas hit last year by Hurricane Charley. Some houses and businesses in the area are still boarded up because of that storm. The White House promised to stay on top of the situation, hoping to avoid a repeat of the slow initial response to Katrina. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was positioning emergency materials in Jacksonville, Lakeland and Homestead. Gov. Jeb Bush said the state has ample supplies of food, water and ice ready for hard-hit areas. Sean Mayo was filling up his sport utility vehicle’s 26-gallon tank and a five-gallon gas can in Marco Island. “We don’t know if there will be any shortages. I need to make sure I got enough gas to get to Lauderdale and back,” he said. Although Wilma was approaching from the west, forecasters warned that Atlantic Coast cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach could be hit by winds nearly as strong. At 8 p.m. EDT, Wilma was centered about 270 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and 452 miles south-southwest of Key West. It was moving west-northwest near 7 mph, forecasters said. Mayfield said the Keys could be hit by storm surge up to 25 feet and battering waves ever higher than that. “I just don’t see how the Florida Keys will get out of this without having a major impact,” he said. Authorities told visitors to leave the Keys on Wednesday and planned to order residents to get out today. The Keys were evacuated for Hurricanes Dennis and Rita earlier this year and four times last year. “It is tough on the nerves,” said Leon Dermer, owner of Happy Feather Gift Shop in Key Largo. He said every evacuation costs him about $10,000. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Missouri Gov Eric Greitens Resigns

first_imgJeff Roberson/APEric Greitens announced his resignation Tuesday as governor of Missouri. The Republican, who is facing an extramarital affair scandal and allegations of campaign finance violations, will step down effective June 1.After several months of bitter legal battles and political tussles, first-term Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says he is resigning as of June 1.Greitens who was facing a felony charge and possible impeachment had been under investigation over allegations that he tried to dodge the state’s campaign disclosure laws and to blackmail a former lover.“This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family; millions of dollars of mounting legal bills, endless personal attacks designed to cause maximum damage to family and friends,” he said in a statement from his Jefferson City office.Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, who was elected separately, will succeed Greitens.Prior to taking office, Greitens had pledged to root out “corrupt career politicians” but his brief 17-month tenure was plagued by scandal.The governor’s extramarital affair with his former hairdresser in 2015 made headlines just hours after Greitens’ state of the state address in January. A secretly recorded conversation between the woman he’d had an affair with and her then-husband, revealed claims that Greitens had taken a compromising photo of her and was threatening to release it if she told anyone about their illicit relationship.The recording was released by the woman’s ex-husband without her knowledge and it launched a criminal investigation by authorities. Eventually, the scandal also unspooled into a separate case looking into the illegal use of a charity donor list by Greiten’s campaign to raise campaign funds.A legislative inquiry lead by the House investigative committee subpoenaed the embattled Republican and political novice on Friday, demanding he appear and testify under oath on June 4. The governor’s legal team attempted to stave off the subpoena, but on Tuesday a Cole County judge ruled it could go forward.Greitens, who has consistently denied all criminal allegations and refused to heed calls for his resignation, announced hours later that he would give up the governor’s seat.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Sharelast_img read more