4 maps predicting Hurricane Michael's path, timing, wind speeds, and rainfall

Destin Harbor

Tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate coastal areas in at least 20 counties in Florida as the storm moved over the Gulf of Mexico, carrying winds of 100 miles per hour (155 km per hour) and disrupting oil production.

Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency in Alabama as Hurricane Michael takes aim at Gulf coast.

The alert came after the tropical storm system strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds late Monday of 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

A hurricane warning was issued for much of the Florida panhandle, with tropical storm watches and warnings issued for areas nearby.

By Tuesday morning, the situation looked much the time. Hazards such as flooding rain, damaging wind gusts, storm surge and tornadoes could extend well away from the center of the storm, the Weather Service office in Jacksonville said in a hurricane local statement.

The storm is expected to unleash coastal storm surges of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) along Florida's Panhandle and dump as much as a foot (30 cm) of rain across Florida, Georgia and SC, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.

"We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life", Scott said.

A storm surge watch is in effect for Anclote River in Florida to Anna Maria Island in Florida, including Tampa Bay.

For Volusia and Flagler counties, the hurricane's path to the west will bring an increased chance of showers and thunderstorms, with gusty winds on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor, said his city's utility has called in "six times" its normal staffing through mutual-aid agreements with other utilities.

Peaton says he's working closely with the National Weather Service to provide accurate information and protective measures to his county, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is especially vulnerable to any flooding produced by Michael.

A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye off the western tip of Cuba found wind speeds rising.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle.

Either way, residents should "be prepared like you would with any approaching storm", he said.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.

"Folks are ready from the government side, but we need our citizens to also be ready", said Gillum. He specifically pointed to forecasts of 8-12 feet of storm surge that could reach miles in from shore.

That's when Maryland could see the first remnants of the storm.

Scott, after getting a briefing at 8 a.m.at the State Emergency Operations Center, urged people who plan to evacuate to do so Tuesday morning, as he continued to expand the activation of the Florida National Guard in advance of Michael's landfall.

Hurricane Michael escalated somewhat quickly.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for.

Michael also wreaked havoc in the Caribbean.

Emergency officials in both counties and statewide are closely watching the hurricane. Voluntary evacuations were ordered for Santa Rosa, Hernando, Leon and Liberty counties. He said Tuesday that he doesn't expect he'll get resupplied soon, because stations nearer to interstate highways will get priority.

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

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