"Monstrous" Hurricane Michael eyeing Florida's Gulf Coast

A satellite image shows Tropical Storm Michael churning toward the Florida Panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico on Oct. 7 2018

"On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through tonight", the hurricane center said.

More than 20 counties have been ordered to evacuate as the Category 2 storm continues to gain strength and has already disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Hurricane Center says Michael is located about 730 kilometers south of the popular resort town of Panama City, carrying maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers an hour, making it a Category 1 storm on the five-level scale that measures a storm's potential destructive power.

Kemp said the bill totaled over $800 when she and her family fled Hurricane Irma's uncertain path a year ago.

Wednesday: By Wednesday morning, the storm's gale-force winds (around 40 mph) will have reached the Panhandle.

The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain with storm surges up to 3.7m, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

The NHC expects the center of Hurricane Michael to cross onto the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend Area on Wednesday.

He said: "If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you".

Officials in Bay County say they have not seen a rush of evacuees clogging roads inland - and that worries them with just hours left before Michael's landfall in the Panhandle. Additional warnings and watches are in effect to the west and south along the Gulf Coast and to the north and east in some inland counties, where evacuations began on Monday.

"Guess what? That's today", Graham said.

Landfall is expected Wednesday on Florida's northeast Gulf Coast.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye off the western tip of Cuba found wind speeds rising.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has suspended his Senate campaign due to the impending storm, warns that this hurricane is "going to be historic" and cause more destruction than the state's panhandle has seen in decades. "Take care of them". The Category 1 storm was moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour.

Tolls have been lifted in Northwest Florida to ease evacuation, and Scott said fuel distribution is being watched, though there haven't been "widespread fuel shortages or outages".

Eric O'Neal and his wife, Mariana, watch the waves as Hurricane Michael approaches land in Pensacola, Fla., on October 9. As Michael nears landfall, we're sharing all you need to know about the impending storm.

Shannon remembers how previous hurricanes knocked out power in Florida's capital city, so he knows what's possible with Michael.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday.

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".

The governor has declared states of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union, Bradford and Baker counties.

Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

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