Everything now points to the Category 2 hurricane reaching the coast after churning northward from the Caribbean Sea through very warm Gulf of Mexico waters, then curving rapidly to the northeast at the southwest corner of Georgia.
Once it reaches land, Michael is forecast to weaken into a tropical storm when it passes through the East Coast, including the New York City area, by Friday morning.
Michael was moving north at 12 miles per hour.
As of 5:00 pm Eastern time (2100 GMT), Michael was about 295 miles (470 kilometers) south of Panama City and moving north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph). "We need to be ready for this", NHC Director Ken Graham said in an update Tuesday morning, urging people in the storm's path to finish preparations and evacuate if they're in an emergency area.
A hurricane warning is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River.
"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades", Scott said.
The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade. At present, a maximum of 10 inches of rain is forecast to fall over the Florida panhandle and southern Georgia.
It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on Sep 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches of rain.
President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center said. "It looks like another big one", he said.
"A fast-moving storm also ensures that the storm can maintain some intensity farther inland".
The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.
In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.
"Were looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than Ive seen in my 59 years of life".
And, by the way, 50 percent of the fatalities in a tropical system is actually the storm surge.
"Think about what we've seen before with storms like Hurricane Irma", he said.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Scott has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties in Florida.
Scott on Monday expanded a state of emergency to a total of 35 Florida counties, the news release said.
"We are running out of time", Scott said in a post on Twitter. You can see the Euro model below.
Maul's warning to local officials echoed concerns he raised to staff members in Tallahassee earlier Tuesday about shelters coming online at the last minute. Many gas stations in Tallahassee had run out of fuel, including the Quick "N" Save, which was also stripped clean of bottled water and down to about two dozen bags of ice. In a Monday afternoon update, forecasters said winds have increased to almost 80 miles per hour (129 kph) as the storm moves north at almost 9 miles per hour (14 kph).
Landfall is expected Wednesday on the northeastern Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike. That's just below the threshold for a "major" hurricane, and forecasters say they still expect Michael to get stronger.
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