Hurricane Michael gains Strength, Takes Aim at North Florida

'Potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 2, targets Florida

'We've Never Seen Anything Like It in the Panhandle': Monstrous Hurricane Michael Set to Strike Florida

"A hurricane warning has been issued for portions of the Florida Gulf Coast, and everyone in these areas should prepare for life-threatening winds associated with the core of Michael".

The National Hurricane Center said the storm was moving north-northwestward through the southern Gulf of Mexico, and that storm surge and hurricane warnings were in effect for the northeastern Gulf coast.

Tens of thousands of Floridians were warned on Tuesday to get out of harm's way as Hurricane Michael churned over the Gulf of Mexico toward the northwestern part of the state, bringing fierce winds, torrential rain and life-threatening coastal floods. It is expected to make landfall in the central part of the Florida panhandle near Panama City on Wednesday.

A number mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Florida counties ahead of Michael. During an emergency meeting of the Bay County Commission on Monday night, Sheriff Tommy Ford said people will "not be dragged out of their homes", but reminded those who stay that first responders may not be able to reach them once the storm hits.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday that a hurricane hunter plane found Michael's top sustained winds have increased to near 125 miles per hour (205 kph) with higher gusts.

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Relatively minor flooding from a combination of king tides and 1 to 3 feet of storm surge from Michael, with Tuesday night's tide expected to be the highest. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 miles per hour, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

Scott warned north Florida hospitals and nursing homes on Monday to do everything possible to provide for the safety of elderly and infirmed patients.

4 P.M. What the Hurricane Center has been predicting has come to pass - Hurricane Michael has strengthened into a major hurricane. Following Hurricane Irma previous year, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

"It's a massive storm".

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".

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"It looked a couple of days ago like it was not going to be much", President Trump said of the storm, "and now it's looking like it could be a very big one, so we're prepared, and good luck".

Both NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft have flown through the hurricane's four quadrants - and the NHC says, "The planes actually passed through the eye around the same time [Tuesday morning], and reported that they could see one another". Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she fears widespread power outages and other problems would follow.

As of 5 a.m. ET on October 9, Michael's center was about 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida and 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida. Please consult products from your local weather office. The governors of Alabama and Georgia also declared emergencies.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, filled sandbags with residents and urged the state capital's residents to finish emergency preparations quickly.

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