Hurricane Michael reaches Category 2, threatens southern US

Gov. Rick Scott at this morning's briefing

Hurricane Michael strengthened to a Category 2 storm with 100-mile-per-hour winds on Tuesday as Florida's governor warned it could bring "total devastation" to parts of the southern USA state.

Those winds were tearing some buildings apart in Panama City Beach.

If it makes landfall as a Category 4, it'll be the strongest hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. As Michael nears landfall, we're sharing all you need to know about the impending storm.

4 P.M. What the Hurricane Center has been predicting has come to pass - Hurricane Michael has strengthened into a major hurricane.

Some regions of the United States are expecting 12in (30cm) of rain, with flash flooding possibly striking along a 300-mile stretch of Florida's coastline. Florida Peninsula, eastern Mid Atlantic, southern New England coast...1-3 inches.

The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month.

Michael is forecast to hit the Florida coast Wednesday before moving over Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas Wednesday night and Thursday.

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.

Evacuations have been ordered in parts of 10 counties.

Michael gathered greater strength over warm Gulf of Mexico waters throughout the day on Tuesday as it jumped from a Category 2 to Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

Hurricane Michael's Eye over the coast of Florida, about 6.30am NZT (1.30pm local time).

The storm is now moving north, crossing into the Gulf of Mexico, and will likely curve to the east after its coastal impact. A Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of between 130 miles per hour and 156 miles per hour.

President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency. The National Hurricane center says the Florida Panhandle should prepare for life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds and heavy rainfall.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient", said Scott. As Michael moves inland, southern Georgia and southeastern Alabama can expect damaging winds, too.

The entire Florida Panhandle is under a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning. Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometres) from the centre were already lashing the coast.

"You haven't got anywhere to go (if the bridges close)", he said Tuesday.

Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro shared images previous year comparing the creepy face sightings from Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", the NWS in Tallahassee, Florida, tweeted Wednesday morning.

More than 300 miles of coastline from Mobile, AL, through the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area are threatened, according to the NHC.

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