The continental U.S.' next threat after Hurricane Florence dumped more than two feet of rain on areas of North Carolina and caused river flooding from northeast SC to neighboring Florence County is gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a predicted midweek strike on the Florida Panhandle, according to weather officials.
Over 300 miles of coastline are now under threat, the National Weather Service has cautioned.
Drawing energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm strengthened rapidly into a potentially devastating Category 3 and was getting much better organized after nightfall.
The approaching storm clouds prompted Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency Tuesday for 92 counties in the state, including Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Talbot, Marion, Stewart, Sumter, Taylor, Schley, Quitman and Webster south and east of Columbus.
Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in Wakulla, Gulf and Bay counties.
Currently, the bulk of the forecast model guidance has the storm tracking southeast of the Maritimes, as well as Newfoundland this weekend. The state emergency website - which provides information on information on road closings, evacuation routes, power outages, flood zones and county shelter operations - had technical issues through Monday and as recently as Tuesday morning.
"Minimal impact" is a lousy title for an action film but a good prediction for a hurricane, and that's what Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said was coming to the D.C. area. The storm is moving north at 12 miles per hour.
The National Weather Service said Michael could produce life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds. The brunt of the storm will hit the Florida Panhandle and continue through Georgia and South Carolina Thursday before hitting central South Carolina and central North Carolina.
Hurricane Michael passed through western Cuba on Monday evening and is projected to hit Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon. Up to four inches (10 centimeters) were expected to fall through Tuesday.
Mark Wallheiser via Getty Images Hurricane Michael was forecast to become a Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour when it makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle.
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American model forecast valid Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. focusing on the steering components of Michael's track.
Tropical-storm-force winds will be felt in the area starting early Wednesday, and mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders already have been issued in at least 16 Florida counties along and near the state's Panhandle and Big Bend coasts.
That's when Maryland could see the first remnants of the storm. "We wish all our guests who are traveling back home a safe journey".
At 11 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said Michael had top sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.
Henderson County is expected to get 3 to 4 inches of rainfall Tuesday through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Leslie is around 1,090 miles west of the Azores, an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds of 60mph.
The hurricane has undergone a period of "rapid intensification", defined as a 35 mph increase in sustained winds over a 24-hour period.
The heaviest rain will tend to fall in areas that were missed by Florence and focused from the Florida Panhandle to southwestern and central Georgia to part of central SC. All Tyndall personnel, including those in base housing, must be off the base by 3 p.m. Tuesday, according to Tyndall's Facebook page.
The next named storm will be called Nadine.