The National Hurricane Center said the powerful storm-officially upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane overnight with sustained winds of up to 140 miles per hour and gusts of 185 mph-is expected to move across the northeastern Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in the Panhandle region of Florida in the afternoon, and then sweep inland to the northeast.
"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.
As of late Tuesday, storm trackers were still seeing signs of Michael intensifying.
Scott had warned of a "monstrous hurricane", and his Democratic opponent for the Senate, Sen.
Lifeguards patrol the beach in advance of Hurricane Michael in Pensacola, Florida. "If they tell you to leave, you have to leave".
A storm surge warning is in effect from the Okaloosa-Walton County line to the Anclote River in Florida. "The citizens in Georgia need to wake up and pay attention", he said. Hurricane force wind gusts, very high surf, and torrential rain will be possible off the Grand Banks and for Sable Island. The storm could strengthen further before coming ashore, it said.
"SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY", Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted, while the sheriff in Panama City's Bay County issued a shelter-in-place order before dawn.
Gov Scott warned in a news conference that Hurricane Michael is a "massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle".
The National Hurricane Center, in Miami said early Tuesday that, "On the forecast track, the center of Michael will continue to move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico this morning, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and tonight".
"It's not going to be easy sleeping", she said ruefully after she had picked a narrow space on a linoleum floor in a hallway.
Authorities told residents along the affected areas of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast that they had run out of time to evacuate and should hunker down.
However, Hurricane Michael's strong winds and storm surge could be devastating. Tropical storm winds extended 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center, and hurricane-force winds reached out 45 miles (75 kilometers).
The storm rotates due to the spin of the earth and energy from the warm ocean increases wind speeds as it builds.
Top sustained winds were reported to be near 140 miles per hour at 5am.
Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties, activating 1,250 National Guard troops in preparation for the storm.
PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Early Wednesday, Panama City Beach was desolate. The restaurants and shops all across the waterfront community were closed. As a Category 4 storm, it will be the strongest storm to ever hit the city.
"I feel like that they should've provided something", she said.
As Thomas spoke, a hurricane party was going on less than 2 miles away at Buster's Beer and Bait, a dive bar popular both with locals and tourists who overwhelm the region during the summer. Across the way, the waves grew higher and louder.
Scientists have long warned that global warming will make cyclones more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible. We will play board games.
Relatives in IL urged Thomas to leave and stay with them, but he didn't have the means to get there quickly enough, and he didn't want to stay in a shelter.