He said the storm would still have hurricane-force winds as it pushed through Florida into Georgia and tropical storm-force winds when it reaches the Carolinas, which are still reeling from post-Florence flooding.
At a Tallahassee hotel, Lou Bassett was trying to make the most of having his family's beach vacation in Cape San Blas abruptly curtailed as he unloaded sandy strollers and luggage from his auto while one of his sons looked on grumpily. But fears lingered that some failed to heed the calls to get out of Michael's way as the hard-charging storm began speeding north over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Less than a day earlier, Michael was a Category 2.
Blake also said he hoped that everyone had left the coast along the Florida Panhandle, as this was a "near-worst case" scenario for the region.
Hurricane Michael howled closer to Florida's Gulf shore on Tuesday as a major Category 3 storm, and half a million coastal residents were urged to seek higher ground on the eve of a landfall forecast to bring towering waves and roof-shredding winds.
Hargan, a bartender at a riverfront restaurant, feared he would lose his home and his job to the storm.
"We are running out of time", the Republican governor said on Twitter.
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Michael's eye was about 140 miles from Panama City and 130 miles from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph.
Michael will make landfall on Wednesday, likely a little further down the coast around Panama City Beach, a family-friendly resort town edged by white-sand beaches and dotted with hotel towers, mini-golf courses and oyster restaurants.
The effects of Hurricane Michael may cause residential areas to become uninhabitable for weeks or possibly even months. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging wind and rain all the way into the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.
"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. "The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle".
Michael will need to be watched closely.
Several hours ahead of landfall, seawater was already lapping over the docks at Massalina Bayou near downtown Panama City, and knee-deep water was rising against buildings in St. Marks, which sits on an inlet south of Tallahassee. More than 5,000 National Guard soldiers have been put on alert.