US Gulf Coast bracing for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael

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

Florida's voters threatened by Hurricane Michael will get an extra day to register to vote ahead of the state's closely-watched races for governor and U.S. Senate.

Catastrophe risk modelling firm RMS has highlighted some key differences between hurricane Michael, which is heading for the Florida coast and expected to be a major category storm at landfall, with recent hurricane Florence.

As Hurricane Michael continues to churn it's way toward the Florida Panhandle Tuesday (10/9) tens of thousands of people potentially in harm's way have been ordered to heed warnings of possible severe coastal flooding.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 15 formed Tuesday morning about 500 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands. Its hurricane-force winds extended up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from its center.

"Damaging winds will also extend inland across portions of the Florida Panhandle, southern Georgia, and southeast Alabama as Michael moves inland", the hurricane center cautioned.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference. Residents in these areas should follow advice given by local officials, and keep tabs on live updates, which are available from CNN. Some southern Alabama counties were under a tropical storm watch Monday afternoon.

Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the fast-moving hurricane, which was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday along a relatively lightly populated stretch of shoreline known for its fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.

Volusia County Beach Safety secured non-essential equipment off of the beach due to the predicted wind and swell, said spokeswoman Captain Tamara Malphurs.

Interests along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast areas are advised to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Michael.

Hurricane Michael suddenly became news on Monday after eclipsing its former tropical-storm status while lashing Cuba.

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"Families should take the opportunity today to make sure they have three days of food and water, as well as all needed medications", Governor Scott wrote on Twitter.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour. Scott says that as evacuations are ordered, he will waive tolls.

This would make it the strongest storm to hit the Panhandle of the state since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

According to an alert published by the Cuban Civil Defense, meteorologists warned affected residents that they could experience hurricane-force winds.

Forecasters say some regions may see 12in (30cm) of rain, and storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m).

He described Michael as a "monstrous hurricane".

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

As the storm closed in on the USA, it caused havoc in the Caribbean.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

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