As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center measured maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour, upgrading Michael to a Category 3, nearly Category 4. "Alabamians should always be prepared, but everyone needs to make final preparations now to be ready for Hurricane Michael", Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings said.
Michael was upgraded to a hurricane Monday and is expected to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before reaching the Panhandle and Big Bend area on Wednesday. A hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, and tropical storm watches have been issued from the Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island and from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.
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Florida and Alabama have both declared states of emergency. It was moving north at 12 miles per hour. "Impacts from Hurricane Michael along the Florida Panhandle will include a risky storm surge, flooding rainfall and damaging winds". A storm surge warning was issued for Florida's Gulf coast from the Okaloosa-Walton County Line to Anclote River.
In the Florida Panhandle, from Navarre, eastward is a Storm Surge Warning.
Wind shear will remain the only deterrent to the strength of Michael prior to landfal.
Hurricane Michael is getting stronger, now a major Category 3 hurricane as it races toward the Panhandle of Florida.
President Trump has committed to providing any federal resources Florida may need, according to Scott.
Florida State University said its campuses in Tallahassee and Panama City will be closed from Tuesday to Friday. "Take care of them", Scott said. Scott advised Gulf Coast residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders, and he put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert.
The storm also could bring with it tornadoes and storm surge. Isolated areas could get 12 inches and life-threatening flash floods. "This is coming very fast".
"On the state level, we are prepared", said Ivey. "It looks like another big one", he added.
Officials at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, said they were also monitoring the storm but have not changed anything with base operations.
"I think all of my friends are either trying to go home or go north", said FSU student Mackenzie Brennan.
In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open in Wakulla County because Michael was forecast to become a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph).
Traffic has built up along a coastal highway on Panama City Beach, as residents begin to board up and move out.
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday called Hurricane Michael a "monstrous" and potentially "deadly" storm that is barreling toward Florida.
Peaton says he's working closely with the National Weather Service to provide accurate information and protective measures to his county, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is especially vulnerable to any flooding produced by Michael. The below graphic shows the storm's projected path, which could also dump large amounts of rain throughout the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
It is rare but certainly not unheard of for major hurricanes to strike the United States in October-after all, the season does not end until November 30.