Florida Braces For 'Life-Threatening' Hurricane Michael To Hit Panhandle On Wednesday

Satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael lower right churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle

Michael is expected to reach major hurricane status on Wednesday as it approaches a landfall between Apalachicola and Pensacola, with 125 miles per hour winds, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday in its 11 a.m. update.

"The same can be said for evacuation plans - all while a major hurricane bears down on our shores".

Only essential personnel were expected to work Tuesday. There is a 70 percent chance of precipitation with heavy rainfall and wind gusts Wednesday, rising to a 100 percent chance Wednesday night, with winds topping 25 miles per hour at times.

At 11 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said Michael had top sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.

However this pace also means that hurricane Michael may maintain tropical storm wind speeds as it tracks north and affects the Carolina's before heading back out to sea off the USA east coast.

Energy companies halted almost a fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and moved staff from 10 platforms on Monday as Michael was forecast to become the strongest of three named storms to affect the US Gulf of Mexico this year.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.

Hurricane Michael is expected to reach Florida's Panhandle region sometime Wednesday, before slowly moving through the bottom half of the southeastern United States over the next day.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Florida's west coast from the Suwannee River to Chassahowitzka.

"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.

President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency. "It looks like another big one", he said.

FEMA is already on Floridian ground, providing assistance in the form of the EPA, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, Health and Human Services and the Army Corps of Engineers. The governor has activated 500 Florida National Guard troops and said another 5,500 are available and preparing, for missions including search and rescue and humanitarian assistance. As much as a foot (30 cm) of rain is forecast across Florida, Georgia and SC, the center reported.

Florida Fish and Wildlife has put 40 additional law enforcement officers on notice to deploy with a variety of special equipment, including boats that can be used for high-water rescues. A storm surge up to 12 feet is possible along portions of Florida's Gulf Coast from Steinhatchee to Apalachicola Bay.

Storm surge warnings are also in place along the Florida and Alabama coasts. "Do not think you can survive it", Scott said.

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in Wakulla, Gulf and Bay counties.

That's when Maryland could see the first remnants of the storm. More than 80 deaths were linked to that storm, according to The Associated Press - including residents of a nursing home. "Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials". A separate map shows Columbus could see rain totals between 2 and 3 inches from the storm.

Peaton says he is working closely with the National Weather Service to provide accurate information and protective measures to his county, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is especially vulnerable to any flooding produced by Michael.

Those who planned to stay emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies throughout the day on Monday.

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