"Hurricane Michael is a massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially the Panhandle", Scott said.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm could unleash coastal storm surges of up to 3.7 meters along the Florida Panhandle and dump up to 30 cm of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC. Tropical storm warnings are posted for the Isle of Youth in Cuba and the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel.
Residents of Florida's Panhandle frantically filled sandbags, boarded up homes and secured boats Monday as they anxiously awaited Hurricane Michael, which forecasters warned could smash into the state's Gulf Coast as a risky major hurricane within days.
Heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds are forecast, and a storm surge warning has also been issued for the northeastern Gulf Coast and extended to the Alabama-Florida border. Once the storm and cold front pass, it now looks like we'll see some actual cooler air with highs next weekend expected to stay in the 60s.
On the Florida Panhandle, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents who choose to ride out the storm that first responders would not be able to reach them during or immediately after Michael smashes into the coast.
Enlarge / 12z European model forecast for Hurricane Michael's position at 2pm ET on Wednesday.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties.
As the storm moved north it battered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba with drenching rains and winds of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kph), the Miami-based hurricane center said. Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state.
"We've got a few days to do that as this storm continues to strengthen", Graham said. A couple breweries in the city offered free filtered water to anyone bringing in jugs or other containers. "We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life".
Freeport High School in Walton County was also scheduled to open as a shelter at 7 a.m. Tuesday, in addition to the Guy Thompson Community Center in Santa Rosa County at 1 p.m.
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"I don't want to lose everything in the freezer, but it is what is", said Beaver as she loaded sandbags into her family's pickup truck.
Gary Givens, owner of Gary's Oyster Shack in Panama City, Florida, said he was closing his restaurant around lunchtime on Tuesday with the help of his crew ahead of the storm's arrival.
The city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place".
By 5 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 80 miles per hour. The storm was centered about 60 miles (100 kilometers) off the western tip of Cuba, and about 485 miles (785 kilometers) south of Apalachicola.
By 5pm. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 80mph (129kph) as it headed north at 9mph (14.5kph).
Michael was lashing western Cuba on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds.
Gov. Kay Ivey put the declaration into effect at 3 p.m. on Monday in anticipation of the damage Michael could cause in the Yellowhammer State.
Floridians scurried to prepare after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties. Aside from causing power outages, flooding and property damage, Michael could also worsen a toxic algae bloom that has plagued Florida's beaches for a year. The most recent was Hurricane Wilma during the incredibly active season of 2005.
Tracy Fanara at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota said the algae are "very vulnerable to turbulence" and the bloom could dissipate.
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