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Hurricane Michael gaining strength as it approaches Florida panhandle

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Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

He noted that residents in the nearby coastal county of Wakulla were being forced to keep their shelters shut because they aren't built to withstand severe winds that may come with Hurricane Michael.

Storm surge warnings were also in place along the Florida and Alabama coasts.

"Minimal impact" is a lousy title for an action film but a good prediction for a hurricane, and that's what Storm Team 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said was coming to the D.C. area.

Any time a tropical system, and it's remnants, move north up the East Coast we need to be concerned here in ME for wind and rain.

Michael is projected to plough into Florida's panhandle at midday on Wednesday, unleashing potentially devastating waves of seawater as high as 12 feet (3.6 metres) that could rush inland for miles around the storm's centre, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.

Co-owner James Frost, 36, sat with a few others on the sidewalk outside the bar late Tuesday, staring at the Apalachicola River, hoping the water will stop once it reaches that height as Michael slams ashore today.

"Hurricane Michael poses a deadly threat", Scott said, warning that it could be the "most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades".

Lines at gasoline stations were growing long in Panama City as people prepared to leave areas under mandatory evacuation, Trepanier said.

Michael also could dump up to a foot of rain over some Panhandle communities before it sweeps into Georgia.

Panovich: Hurricane Michael will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas

Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said there were just hours left until Michael's wind gusts and rain bands would start whipping the coast.

President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state, freeing up federal funds for relief operations and providing the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "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". The storm is set to slam into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday.

The effects will be far worse up north. Forecasters said parts of Floridas marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area — the crook of Floridas elbow — could see up to 13 feet of storm surge. A separate map shows Columbus could see rain totals between 2 and 3 inches from the storm. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to unsafe levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland. "Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN. The governor has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties, and is stressing that residents should "absolutely" evacuate if ordered to.

As of Tuesday evening, Michael had 120mph winds, and it still had another 18 hours or so over open water to intensify before interactions with the United States landmass would force some weakening. The storm was implicated in the deaths of 80 Floridians, according to the Associated Press - including residents at a nursing home.

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.

"We are running out of time", Scott said in a post on Twitter.

"You will see damage to infrastructure".

State offices, schools and universities were to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

The storm is about 270 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, and moving north at 12 mph.

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