- The latest forecast update from the National Hurricane Center has Michael set to come ashore around the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm as officials in North Carolina are preparing for soaking rains and gusty winds that could uproot trees and knock down power lines around the Triangle.
In Gulf County alone, the first to begin ordering residents of low-lying areas to higher ground, mandatory evacuation notices encompassed an estimated 3,800 homes, said Jessica Sasich of the county's emergency operations center.
With maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour while moving north at 9 miles per hour, Michael is now "bringing hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall to western Cuba" as storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued for the northeastern area of the Gulf Coast.
Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center measured maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, upgrading Michael to a Category 3, nearly Category 4.
Forecasters predicted Michael would be a major hurricane - Category 3 or stronger - by the time it arrived Wednesday.
The storm is on track to become a hurricane on Monday, bringing heavy rain to the western tip of Cuba, before making landfall on the northeastern Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
The life-threatening storm is then expected to rapidly intensify, threatening anywhere to the right of Panama City with the potential of up to 12 feet of storm surge.
After crossing the Florida panhandle midweek, Michael is also expected to soak Tennessee and swaths of the Mid-Atlantic, including Virginia and Maryland, later this week. "Take care of them", he said. A slight risk of severe weather has been outlined for central Georgia for today and tonight for the threat of spin-up tornadoes.
"If you are electricity dependent, we would encourage you to make some decisions around where you want to ride out this storm", said Gillum.
7 P.M. Michael continued a slow process of strengthening Monday and at the 7 p.m. intermediate advisory had winds of 85 miles per hour. The hurricane was predicted to dump up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain with life-threatening flash flooding, according to forecasters.
Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Hurricane Harvey - causing a record-equalling $125bn in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area. It is expected to cut quickly across the Peach State toward the Carolinas and areas flooded severely last month by Hurricane Florence. Tropical storm warnings extend farther south, to Chassahowitzka, Fla., and to the west, along the Alabama coast.
Manatee County also was included in Scott's request that President Donald Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency in those 35 counties in preparation for Hurricane Michael. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".