The National Weather Service has warned the hurricane could have catastrophic impacts in the Big Bend and Panhandle as it moves ashore with powerful winds and a life-threatening storm surge, then turns northeastward to the Carolinas.
"The threat for tornadoes will increase late tonight into Wednesday over parts of the Florida Panhandle, the northern Florida Peninsula, and southern Georgia", the hurricane center said.
A hurricane hunter plane investigating the storm Tuesday morning found that Michael's eye had become less organized.
Tuesday: Showers and thunderstorms are possible, unrelated to Hurricane Michael.
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.
Storm surge could be life-threatening, the winds will be destructive, and power outages will last for days or even weeks in the hardest-hit locations. "As Hurricane Michael nears landfall, we are working with state and local officials in Florida to take all necessary precautions", Trump said on Monday. That's just below the threshold for a "major" hurricane, and forecasters say they still expect Michael to get stronger. Five drilling rigs were moved out of the storm's path, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.
Landfall is expected Wednesday on the northeastern Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 175 miles (280 kilometers).
Either way, residents should "be prepared like you would with any approaching storm", he said.
RMS said that, "Because Michael is expected to be a fast-moving storm, the potential impacts are nearly the opposite of what we saw in Florence". "It's forecast to be a large and risky hurricane at landfall".
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for. Power outages are likely if winds are strong enough to bring down wet branches and trees in waterlogged soil.
Eric O'Neal and his wife, Mariana, watch the waves as Hurricane Michael approaches land in Pensacola, Fla., on October 9.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Florida cities including Tallahassee, Panama City, Apalachicola and Pensacola.
Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties, from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay, activated 2,500 members of the Florida National Guard and waived tolls to encourage evacuations.
Michael is also predicted to be the strongest hurricane based on wind speed to hit continental USA landfall this year.
"I've been talking to mayors, to county commissioners, I think people are taking this serious", Scott said.
From Indian Pass, Florida, to Cedar Key, Florida, 8 to 12 feet of storm surge could inundate some areas, the agency warned.
Some 120,000 people people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.
Now ranked as a category-1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a category-3 storm, with the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday.
The sheriff's office says Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes below that threshold.
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