Forming near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday and having first appeared on radars just a day prior, Hurricane Michael is now situated 80 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, where it is set to make landfall, and is moving northward.
On the forecast track, the core of Michael will move inland across the Florida Panhandle this afternoon, and across southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia tonight.
Forecasters warned parts of Florida could experience storm surges of up to 14ft (4m) and flash floods from up to 30cm of rain.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Tuesday an estimated 500,000 Florida residents had been ordered or urged to seek higher ground before the storm in 20 counties spanning a 200-mile (320-km) stretch of shoreline. It was heading north-northeast at 14 miles per hour (22 kph) with maximum sustained winds down to 150 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.
At 11 a.m., the core of extremely risky Hurricane Michael was closing in on the Florida Panhandle in the area of Panama City. The only other hurricane that landed with comparable force this late in the year was Hurricane Hazel in 1954, but Michael was much stronger when it came ashore, Mr. Henson said.
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Marino, who lives with his girlfriend and her grandmother, said water started dripping through the chimney, and they feared the wind would send the tree crashing through the roof.
Multiple airports were closed on Wednesday, including Tallahassee International Airport, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, Pensacola International Airport and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. Amtrak has also modified its service and is waiving fees for passengers who change their reservations.
Downed powerlines are seen after hurricane Michael passed through the downtown area on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida.
The latest update from the NHC cites still Category 3 sustained winds and at this time hurricane Michael is moving towards Georgia, which is unusual but due to the late intensification and fast movement of the storm not entirely unexpected.
After making landfall in Florida, Michael's fierce winds and heavy rain struck Georgia, where it was downgraded to a tropical storm heading towards the Carolinas. A little over a day later, it had transformed into a monster.
Ken Graham, director of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center, said Michael is "unfortunately, a historical and incredibly unsafe and life-threatening situation".
Meteorologists say Michael got its fury from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Storm flooding leveled off along the Gulf Coast as of 11 p.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said.
Warmer water acts as fuel for a hurricane, helping it develop into a more destructive, windier storm.