Hurricane Michael Takes Aim At North Florida While Strengthening Into Category 2

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Currently, the bulk of the forecast model guidance has the storm tracking southeast of the Maritimes, as well as Newfoundland this weekend.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said at a news conference Sunday. "If you live along some of these rivers, you have to think the waters are going to come up there".

During a briefing Tuesday, Scott said the state's emergency response center is now active and includes a 24-hour response hotline. Because he owns two businesses in the area, Givens, who lives inland, said he was not evacuating.

Michael surprised forecasters Monday when an investigating flight found the storm more organized than expected and growing stronger.

"There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water, and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts", Gillum said.

Swells generated by Michael are beginning to affect the coasts of the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico.

About 3.7 million people are under hurricane warnings - in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions as well as parts of southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia. Some southern Alabama counties were under a tropical storm watch Monday afternoon.

A hurricane warning was issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to Suwannee River.

As we wrote earlier today, as much as $13.4 billion of property reconstruction values stand in hurricane Michael's path.

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The last major hurricane - Category 3 or above - to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis, which made landfall near Pensacola in 2005, according to hurricane center data. Forecasters predict the storm will bring torrential rains and winds of upwards of 120 miles per hour. Hazards such as flooding rain, damaging wind gusts, storm surge and tornadoes could extend well away from the center of the storm, the Weather Service office in Jacksonville said in a hurricane local statement.

The storm was located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Cuba's western tip and 520 miles (837 kilometers) south of Apalachicola, Florida.

A fast and furious Hurricane Michael sped toward the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday with 120 miles per hour winds and a potential storm surge of 13 feet, giving tens of thousands of people precious little time to get out or board up.

Hurricane Michael will influence South Florida's weather for the rest of the week, but the effects are not expected to be significant, forecasters say. "When high winds and low pressure cause water to amass inside the storm, they release a powerful rush over land when the hurricane moves onshore", CoreLogic said in a statement.

Emergency officials in both counties and statewide are closely watching the hurricane.

The governor warns that storm surge could be as high as 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) in some parts of the Panhandle and 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) in the Tampa Bay area.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced an extension Tuesday morning that will allow county supervisors to accept paper voter-registration applications when they reopen from the storm.

Three Florida Panhandle counties have issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Michael's expected landfall. Since 1851, according to Colorado State University hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach, nine major hurricanes have struck the Panhandle since semi-accurate record-keeping began in 1851.

There will be no shelters open in Wakulla County, the sheriff's office warned on Facebook, because they are rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 178kmh.