The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, and a hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. The storm is moving north at 12 miles per hour.
Parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge, while Michael also could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities as it moves inland, forecasters said.
But Michael will be a strong storm when it makes landfall in and around Florida.
"Let me be clear, Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during a media conference Tuesday morning. "The time to prepare is now". Forecasters also warned spinoff tornadoes would also be a threat.
People in areas that could be affected should take no chances against such a powerful surge, Scott said, adding, "No one's going to survive", such a wall of water.
"The center of Michael will continue to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico this morning, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and tonight", said the agency's 5 a.m. ET update.More news: Griffith faces up to the issues of World Mental Health Day
Many schools, businesses and government buildings will be closed and energy companies have halted almost a fifth of the oil production on the Gulf of Mexico, a part of the United States which is responsible for 17% of daily USA crude oil output. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped drive oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.
The NHC said that it could hit anywhere along the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area.
Most gas stations in downtown Tallahassee are out of gas as Hurricane Michael approaches.
Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee. Because he owns two businesses in the area, Givens, who lives inland, said he was not evacuating.
Scott also told caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all they can to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.
About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby.
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.More news: Ignore even more phone calls with Google's 'call screen' feature
"Up to four to six inches of rain is now expected over the Carolinas, still recovering from the floods caused by Hurricane Florence".
The NHC said the storm was packing sustained winds of up to 120 miles per hour (195 km per hour), jumping from a Category 2 to Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
A high risk of rip currents at Atlantic Coast beaches. "It's forecast to be a large and unsafe hurricane at landfall".
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.
Landfall is expected Wednesday on the northeastern Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike.
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency, saying on Twitter that it was "in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds & heavy rain associated with #HurricaneMichael".More news: Iran refutes Saudi claim that can meet post-sanctions oil demand
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