Fueled by warm tropical waters, fast-strengthening Michael could gain major hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour (179 kph) before its anticipated landfall Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend area of Florida, forecasters have warned.
"I know people are worn out from Florence, but don't let this storm catch you with your guard down", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, adding, "A number of homes have rooftop tarps that could be damaged or blown away with this wind".
As of late Tuesday, storm trackers were still seeing signs of Michael intensifying.
The speed of the storm - Michael was moving north 12 mph - gave many people a dwindling number of hours to prepare or flee before being caught up in damaging wind and rain. Areas from the Anclote River to the north are under a storm surge warning. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for.
At 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Tuesday, Michael's center was about 335 miles (535 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, heading north at around 12 mph (19 kph), the NHC said. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles from center and tropical-storm-force winds were outward up to 175 miles, the center said. "It's forecast to be a large and unsafe hurricane at landfall".
Duke Energy Florida, which provides electricity to large parts of the state's Big Bend and eastern Panhandle said Tuesday night it expects large scale power outages because of Hurricane Michael.
A hurricane warning was in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida.
The storm was located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Cuba's western tip and 520 miles (837 kilometers) south of Apalachicola, Florida.
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A tropical storm watch is in effect along the southeastern coast of the USA from Fernandina Beach, FL, to South Santee River, SC, the Chassahowitzka River to Anna Maria Island in Florida, including Tampa Bay, and the Mississippi-Alabama border to the mouth of the Pearl River. As a result, the northeastern Gulf Coast is undergoing mandatory evacuations - that includes the Florida Panhandle (stretching into Big Bend) as well as parts of southeast Alabama and southern Georgia. "As Hurricane Michael nears landfall, we are working with state and local officials in Florida to take all necessary precautions", Trump said Monday. The similarities between the two storms are striking - both with respect to where they developed and the dangers they presented to the Florida Gulf Coast. "And then you're riding it out in your auto instead of something else. So, we need the residents to be leaving today because by this evening, those bridges are going to be in peril of being closed".
"The state Emergency Response Team has been holding regular calls with the fuel industry and ports in Florida to ensure they can get gas to the area safely", Scott said. He also activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those living near the coast to evacuate inland.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties.
In Alabama, the entire state was under an emergency declaration.
In Pass Christian, Mississippi, high tide started to flood the front deck of a coastal restaurant, Sea Level, on Tuesday morning.
"A fast-moving storm also ensures that the storm can maintain some intensity farther inland".
"I just can't bring myself to spend that much money", she said. Otherwise, wind and rain impacts will be minimal for most of the Bay Area. "Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" Ali Sages wrote on Twitter. Many filled sandbags, boarded up homes and lined up to buy gas and groceries. Lines at gasoline stations grew as people left.
"Since 6:00 am it's been backed up".