Michael gained new strength over warm tropical waters amid a forecast that it would swiftly intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida's northeast Gulf Coast, where frantic coastal residents were boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from the risky storm heading their way.
By 11 a.m., Michael had winds of 110 miles per hour, just below a major Category 3 hurricane, and was getting stronger, drawing energy from Gulf waters with temperatures in the mid-80s.
Tropical-storm-force winds will be felt in the area starting early Wednesday, and mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders already have been issued in at least 16 Florida counties along and near the state's Panhandle and Big Bend coasts. A storm surge watch is in effect for the Anclote River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, and for the Alabama-Florida border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line.
As hurricanes are subject to change forecasts, especially while the storm is still a few days from the area, continue to follow The Sumter Item online at https://www.theitem.com for information updated throughout the day. "We can rebuild your house, but we cannot rebuild your life".
However this pace also means that hurricane Michael may maintain tropical storm wind speeds as it tracks north and affects the Carolina's before heading back out to sea off the US east coast.
A hurricane hunter plane reports Michael has gotten a little stronger as it moves off of the western tip of Cuba.
"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".
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 111 miles per hour (178 kph).
The category-1 hurricane left dozens dead in the Carolinas and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage.
A state of emergency has also been declared in neighbouring state Alabama by Governor Kay Ivey.
Hurricane Michael passed through western Cuba on Monday evening and is projected to hit Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday afternoon.
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said at a news conference Sunday. He said Tuesday that he doesn't expect he'll get resupplied soon, because stations nearer to interstate highways will get priority.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle. "You need to evacuate if you're ordered to do so", Scott said.
Hurricane Michael was expected to strengthen on Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico, taking aim at the Florida panhandle, where residents were implored to get out of harm's way ahead of life-threatening waves, winds and rains. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water' and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts". The latest European model shows the storm intensifying - possibly to a Category 3 - before it crests Florida's coast near Tallahassee.
Since 1851, Florida has had 36 hurricanes make October landfalls, including 10 major hurricanes.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and make other preparations.