Florida's governor mobilized National Guard troops and thousands of Gulf Coast residents were ordered evacuated on October 8, two days before Hurricane Michael was forecast to slam ashore with life-threatening waves, winds and rains.
The Florida Highway Patrol is pre-deploying 100 State Troopers to the Panhandle and Big Bend area of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Michael.
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Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum canceled campaign events in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the storm, his campaign said. It was moving north at 12 miles per hour.
Michael brought heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds to western Cuba on Monday, with its center brushing close to the island as the storm headed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Mandatory evacuations are underway for Citrus County residents living in Zone A, or in mobile homes. Tropical storm and storm surge watches have been issued from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Tampa Bay. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers). The latest track from the NHC shows Michael as a category 1 hurricane entering the southwestern edge of central Georgia at 2 AM Thursday morning.
Michael's low central pressure - 919 millibars as of 2:00 p.m. ET - makes it the strongest storm to hit the United States since 1969.
Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Florida.
Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee. "This is game time", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said.
Tropical Storm Michael became a named storm on Sunday. He also activated 500 Florida Guard troops ahead of the storm and has a further 5,000 on standby. "This is coming very fast".
"As Hurricane Michael nears landfall, we are working with state and local officials in Florida to take all are in precautions and we urge all residents to be prepared and to heed local officials. It looks like another big one", he added.
In the popular tourist destination of Seaside, people were starting to feel nervous, said Kevin Boyle, the town's director of events. It is forecast to be a major hurricane at landfall and weaken as it moves across the southeastern U.S.
"We expect less rain to fall when compared to Florence", said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.
Besides the unsafe storm surge, residents should also prepare for torrential rain and major flooding, Scott said, with 4 to 8 inches of rain expected and even 12 inches possible in some areas.
The storm is likely to dump prodigious amounts of rain over Florida, Alabama and Georgia, as well as the Carolinas - still reeling from post-Florence flooding - and into Virginia.