Florida is braced for a hurricane 'catastrophe'

Florida State adjusts athletic schedules because of Hurricane Michael

Blake also said he hoped that everyone had left the coast along the Florida Panhandle, as this was a "near-worst case" scenario for the region.

BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday began evacuating personnel from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production platforms.

A storm surge of up to 13 feet (four meters) is expected in some areas, the center said.

Hurricane Michael continues to intensify and has upgraded to a category 3 storm Tuesday afternoon with the Florida Panhandle in its path.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said Sunday after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center.

Carol Cathey boards up her daughter's business in Mexico Beach, Florida, as Hurricane Michael approaches.

The Florida Disaster website on October 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned it was a "monstrous hurricane", and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Sen.

Among people who had fled their homes was Betty Early, 75, a retiree who joined about 300 fellow evacuees huddled on makeshift bed rolls of blankets and collapsed cardboard boxes at an elementary school serving as an American Red Cross shelter in Panama City, near the storm's expected landfall.

Michael will make landfall on Wednesday, likely a little further down the coast around Panama City Beach, a family-friendly resort town edged by white-sand beaches and dotted with hotel towers, mini-golf courses and oyster restaurants.

"We are running out of time", the Republican governor said on Twitter. Michael is forecast to be the most powerful hurricane to hit Florida's Panhandle in a decade. Floodwaters from Florence destroyed two of the church's buildings and gutted three others.

Alabama is under a state-wide state of emergency ahead of the hurricane, along with 92 counties in southern Georgia and 35 counties in Florida.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses. USA producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 percent and natural gas output by 28 percent on Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

On Tuesday, Mr Scott said he activated 2500 Florida National Guard troops in preparation for the storm.

The last major hurricane to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane center data. Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

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