Florida governor expresses his concerns over Hurricane Michael

Storm surge from Hurricane Michael is forecast to be higher than 9 feet and up to 12 feet in some areas of the Big Bend region of Florida

DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK -------- At 1000 PM CDT (0300 UTC), the center of Hurricane Michael was located near latitude 27.1 North, longitude 86.5 West. Michael is moving toward the north near 12 miles per hour (19 km/h).

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

In Escambia County, on the western edge of the Panhandle, evacuations began in Pensacola Beach and other vulnerable areas, but not in Pensacola itself, a city of about 54,000.

Michael gathered greater strength over warm Gulf of Mexico waters throughout the day on Tuesday as it jumped from a Category 2 to Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

Hurricane-force winds extend about 45 miles from the center, with tropical storm-force winds reaching 175 miles, the NHC said.

"Today is the day".

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in several Florida counties and devastating effects are expected to expand far inland.

There was a storm surge warning in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Anclote River in Florida, and a storm surge watch in effect from Ocracoke Inlet, N.C., to Duck, N.C. Forecasters expected it to hit the coast later in the day and warned of devastating winds and unsafe storm surge of 12 feet or higher.

A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from Fernandina Beach Florida to South Santee River South Carolina. We expect to see up to 12 inches of rain in some areas of the Panhandle.

Michael was moving north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph) and is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and heavy rain to the northeastern Gulf Coast.

President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency.

Hurricane Michael is coming. "It looks like another big one".

The Florida governor called Michael "a monstrous storm" and urged residents to listen to officials.

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A top emergency manager expressed concern about storm preparations. "Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area".

Among them was Betty Early, 75, a retiree who joined about 300 fellow evacuees huddled on makeshift bedrolls of blankets and collapsed cardboard boxes at an elementary school converted into an American Red Cross shelter in Panama City, near the storm's expected landfall. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to unsafe levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

The governor has activated 2,500 Florida National Guard members and waived tolls in Northwest Florida.

"Think about what we've seen before with storms like Hurricane Irma", he said. More than 80 deaths were linked to that storm, according to The Associated Press - including residents of a nursing home.

"We've been through this before", she said. Jacksonville will experience tropical downpours and storms by Wednesday evening as the system makes landfall.

Storm surge and tropical storm-like conditions could impact Manatee County through Thursday afternoon, according to watches from the National Weather Service. They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years.

Fineout reported from Tallahassee, Florida.

Both Peaton and Scott encourage residents to have at least three days' worth of food and supplies and to check on their neighbors and monitor local news coverage.

The hurricane's peak winds were at 145kmh as it moved north-north west at 19kmh.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye off the western tip of Cuba found wind speeds rising. A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday.

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.

Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a category 4 overnight and remains very well organized and risky, which means parts of Florida will experience a heavy, if not a devastating, blow today and into tonight.

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