What to expect in Orlando area from 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

On the Florida Panhandle, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents who choose to ride out the storm that first responders won't be able to reach them during or immediately after Michael smashes into the coast.

The NHC warned that both could trigger deadly flooding and that residents within the hurricane warning zone should also "prepare for life-threatening winds".

Michael was lashing western Cuba on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds.

The National Hurricane Center says Michael is located about 730 kilometers south of the popular resort town of Panama City, carrying maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers an hour, making it a Category 1 storm on the five-level scale that measures a storm's potential destructive power.

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 USA east coast. Voluntary evacuations were ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties.

The NHC expects the center of Hurricane Michael to cross onto the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend Area on Wednesday.

Thursday: The remnants of Hurricane Michael will bring a significant plume of Gulf moisture and elevated wind speeds to southeast Georgia.

President Trump has approved Florida's declaration of emergency. "It looks like another big one".

The governor activated 750 national guardsman for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before.

Over 300 miles of coastline are now under threat, the National Weather Service has cautioned.

"We're looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than I've seen in my 59 years of life", he said of the city, which sits on the shore of Apalachicola Bay, an inlet to the Gulf of Mexico famed for producing about 90 per cent of Florida's oysters.

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US Rep. Neal Dunn, whose district includes Panama City, urged people under evacuation orders to get out before tropical-storm-force winds arrived. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to risky levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for.

"You haven't got anywhere to go (if the bridges close)", he said Tuesday morning.

Scott has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties in Florida. "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water' and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Some 120,000 people people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week.

The storm will quickly move inland and race to the northeast through the Southeastern US, exiting the Mid-Atlantic and sliding south of New England before the weekend.

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.

While the swiftly moving storm is not expected to linger over Florida for long, widespread heavy downpours will likely track inland to flood-stricken areas of the Carolinas even as rain-gorged rivers there begin to recede, National Weather Service meteorologist Ken Widelski told the conference call.

As the storm moved north it battered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba with drenching rains and winds of up to 130km/h, forecasters said.

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