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.
Michael was packing sustained winds of up to 140km/h late on Monday and gaining strength as it skirted past Cuba's western tip, where it is expected to dump as much as 30cm of rain, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.
"The center of Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday", the agency's advisory said.
The governor declared a state of emergency, which included Tampa Bay, and he said he asked President Donald Trump to declare a pre-landfall disaster to free up federal resources.
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Another national, Neil Fung, said the storm looks like " a major one".
Residents of Florida's Panhandle frantically filled sandbags, boarded up homes and secured boats in harbours Monday as they anxiously awaited Hurricane Michael, which forecasters warned could smash into the northeast Gulf coast as a risky major hurricane within days. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path. A separate map shows Columbus could see rain totals between 2 and 4 inches from the storm.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency due to the expected impact of Hurricane Michael. Its central pressure of just 882 millibars set the record for lowest central pressure of any Atlantic hurricane on record.
A large mound of sand in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, was whittled down to a small pile within hours as residents filled sandbags to prepare for potential flooding. Tropical storm warnings cover 8.5 million people in several states.
In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on October 9 through the end of the week in panhandle counties.
The Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates in NY on Monday issued a weather warning to Emiratis in U.S. as Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall in the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
"Today it is about life and safety", Gillum said. In addition, this rainfall will saturate the ground, making it more likely that trees will go down and cause power outages.
Michael has left emergency responders in the Sunshine State scrambling to respond.