The Florida governor called Michael "a monstrous storm" and urged residents to listen to officials.
If the National Hurricane Center wind forecast for Michael verifies, landfalling winds of 125mph would tie the hurricane with 1975's Eloise and an 1882 Pensacola hurricane for the most intense storms to strike the Panhandle on record.
By 8 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 85 miles per hour (140 kph) as it headed north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph).
The storm is expected to unleash coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) along Florida's Panhandle and dump as much as a foot (30 cm) of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported. "Some areas along the Florida Gulf Coast are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity", the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
As hurricanes are subject to change forecasts, especially while the storm is still a few days from the area, continue to follow The Sumter Item online at https://www.theitem.com for information updated throughout the day.
"My expectation is if you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient". As a result, the northeastern Gulf Coast is undergoing mandatory evacuations - that includes the Florida Panhandle (stretching into Big Bend) as well as parts of southeast Alabama and southern Georgia. The governor has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties, and is stressing that residents should "absolutely" evacuate if ordered to.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed an emergency declaration for her entire state, expecting widespread power outages and other problems from Michael.
Hurricane Michael has grown stronger as it moves toward a landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, with its maximum sustained winds reaching 110 miles per hour.
By 11 a.m., Michael had winds of 110 miles per hour, just below a major Category 3 hurricane, and was getting stronger, drawing energy from Gulf waters in the mid-80s. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.More news: SpaceX lands its first rocket on West Coast ground
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Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum canceled campaign events in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the storm, his campaign said.
On the Florida Panhandle, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents who choose to ride out the storm that first responders won't be able to reach them during or immediately after Michael smashes into the coast.
Hurricane Michael will influence South Florida's weather for the rest of the week, but the effects are not expected to be significant, forecasters say.
"Think about what we've seen before with storms like Hurricane Irma", he said.
"Guess what? That's today", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. Forecasters also warned spinoff tornadoes would also be a threat.
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties.
"This storm can kill you".
Florida State University said its campuses in Tallahassee and Panama City will be closed from Tuesday to Friday.
Hurricane Michael is shaping up to be a "monster" storm, in the words of Florida's governor, but it doesn't look like there will be any major effects on the D.C. area.