Richland, Lexington counties under tropical storm watch as Michael approaches

'Running out of time': Florida braces for dangerous floods as Hurricane Michael strengthens

'Running out of time': Florida braces for dangerous floods as Hurricane Michael strengthens

As of 5 a.m. ET, Michael's center was about 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida and 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida.

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan bluntly advised residents choosing to ride it out that first-responders won't be able to reach them while Michael smashes into the coast. "That's the criticality of following directions". The Florida national guard has over 4,000 more guard members available for deployment, according to Scott. In the days following Hurricane Irma past year, 14 people died after a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient". "You need to evacuate if you're ordered to do so", Scott said. "So my expectation is everybody gets taken care of".

On its current track, it would make landfall somewhere along a coastline that includes the cities and towns of Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, St. Teresa and the wildlife reserves bordering Apalachee Bay.

"This storm can kill you", Scott said. "Do not think you can survive it".

"We expect less rain to fall when compared to Florence", said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. "I live four to five blocks from the water, so I'm scared", said Tessa Whitaker, who lives in Carabelle, a city on St. George Sound about an hour southwest of Tallahassee.

He said, "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

It could strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it approaches the Gulf Coast of Florida by Wednesday. Some southern Alabama counties were under a tropical storm watch Monday afternoon.

The Weather Service warned that coast flooding is expected with each high tide. The governors of Alabama and Georgia also declared emergencies.

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move north-east on Wednesday and Thursday along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Thursday: Rain could be torrential in Charlotte on Thursday morning as the remnants of Hurricane Michael plow through the Carolinas.

Now ranked as a category-1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a category-3 storm, with the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.

The storm was located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Cuba's western tip and 520 miles (837 kilometers) south of Apalachicola, Florida.

The hurricane's effects will be felt far from its eye.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River, and a hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she fears widespread power outages and other problems would follow.

Speaking alongside emergency officials in Pasco County, Scott said Monday he's waiving tolls.

The storm will bring an 8-12 foot storm surge.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced an extension Tuesday morning that will allow county supervisors to accept paper voter-registration applications when they reopen from the storm.

Evacuations already had been ordered in parts of 10 counties, according to USA Today.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open in Wakulla County because Michael was forecast to become a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

Authorities told residents and tourists in at least 20 Florida counties to evacuate coastal areas along the 200-mile (322 km) long Panhandle and adjacent Big Bend region.

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