Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Florida, was evacuated ahead of Hurricane Michael.
According to WEAR-TV, storm surge from Hurricane Michael is slated to hit the base. The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that between 9 and 13 feet of storm surge is slated to hit Panama City.
All base residents told ordered to leave when Tyndall was placed under “HURCON 1” status, the station reported. The base is home to about 600 families and is on an island 12 miles to the east of Panama City.
Tyndall is home to the 325th Fighter Wing of the U.S. Air Force.
“It’s important to know that this order applies to all Tyndall assigned military personnel regardless if they live on base or not,” Col. Jefferson Hawkins, who is the vice-commander of the 325th Fighter Wing, told Military.com. “People are our most important resource, and we’re committed to protecting them.”
U.S. military aircraft were moved from Tyndall to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, as a precaution.
Tyndall houses F-22 Raptors, T-38 Talons, QF-16s/F-16 Fighting Falcons converted into unmanned aircraft. It’s not clear any aircraft were moved ahead of the storm, according to Military.com.
F-35A Joint Strike Fighters were also moved from Eglin Air Force Base, the Pensacola News Journal reported, and ABC News reported the expensive planes were sent to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
The NHC in its latest update said Michael has 145 mph winds, making it a Category 4. Additional strengthening is expected.
NHC Director Ken Graham is warning that a Category 4 hurricane like Michael can destroy entire houses, warning that the Florida Panhandle faces catastrophic damage, The Associated Press reported.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Brock Long said his agency has nearly 3,000 people in the field and are ready to assist with Hurricane Michael, The Associated Press reported. Long said that teams and aircraft are ready to support any search and rescue missions in Florida or anywhere else.
Long also said Oct. 10, that residents “who stick around and experience storm surge unfortunately don’t usually live to tell about it.”