It was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches. As of 8 a.m. EDT, Michael was moving north-northwest at 12 mph and positioned about 365 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.
"I've had to take antacids I'm so sick to my stomach today because of this impending catastrophe", National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake tweeted as the storm - drawing energy from the unusually warm, 84-degree Gulf waters - became more menacing. "If they tell you to leave, you have to leave". Michael is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for.
The storm, which formed near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday, is expected to strengthen to a "monstrous" Category 3 storm by the time it makes landfall later this week, according to ABC News.
In Flagler County, officials were downplaying the impact: "While Hurricane Michael is expected to hit the Gulf Coast and the Panhandle with a fury, impacts to Flagler County will likely be minimal - windy, rainy weather for the next couple of days", the county said in a release issued in mid-afternoon.
His Democratic opponent in Florida's Senate race, Sen. Bill Nelson, said a "wall of water" could cause major destruction along the Panhandle.
"That means the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses", Scott said. Residents of this Florida panhandle city were busy Monday readying themselves for Hurricane Michael, which is predicted to make landfall somewhere around Panama City, Fla.
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The storm's center is forecast to move northward over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area by Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States, the NHC said. Western Cuba was also forecast to get torrential rains.
Forecasters said it could bring 3 to 6 inches (7 to 14 centimeters) of rain to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, triggering flash flooding in a corner of the country still recovering from Florence.
"It's a massive storm".
Although Michael's core is just 375 miles west of Fort Lauderdale, that's far enough to buffer us from the hurricane. It developed into a hurricane on Monday. He said people will "not be dragged out of their homes", but anyone who stays behind will be on their own once the storm hits. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday. "Probably 1-2 inches of rain in our area".
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith near the vulnerable coast said his deputies had gone door to door in some places urging people to evacuate.
The Florida Disaster website on October 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders. The governors of Alabama and Georgia also made emergency declarations.
Much of the state saw the "real thing" past year, when Hurricane Irma force more than 6 million evacuations, flooded cities and left millions without power.