Drawing energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm strengthened rapidly into a potentially devastating Category 3 by evening.
In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr said the 2300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades. There is also little chance that the storm's path will shift majorly east or west, based on the latest models.
He said: "My expectation is if you are a health care facility you have a responsibility to take care of those patients".
As Michael moved over open water, energy companies halted almost one-fifth of Gulf of Mexico oil production and evacuated personnel from 10 platforms on Monday. The partial shutdown ahead of Michael helped push oil prices slightly higher on Tuesday.
FSU cancels classes as Hurricane Michael heads toward Panhandle
The storm's center track for now is projected to take Michael northeast into southwest Georgia over Albany and east of Macon. Almost a month after Hurricane Florence created unprecedented flooding , the Grand Strand is in another storm's path.
Hurricane Michael is threatening more than 300 miles of the Gulf Coast, prompting emergency declarations in more than 35 counties from Mobile, Alabama through the Florida Panhandle and into the state's Big Bend region.
A tropical storm watch is in effect along the southeastern coast of the USA from Fernandina Beach, FL, to South Santee River, SC, the Chassahowitzka River to Anna Maria Island in Florida, including Tampa Bay, and the Mississippi-Alabama border to the mouth of the Pearl River.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had numerous teams deployed and ready to respond, said FEMA spokesman Jeff Byard. The Florida national guard has over 4,000 more guard members available for deployment, according to Scott.
Florida State University campuses in Tallahassee and Panama City plan to close Tuesday through Friday. Those who stayed emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies. "This is the real thing, a significant threat to life and safety". Many gas stations in Tallahassee had run out of fuel, including the Quick "N" Save, which was also stripped clean of bottled water and down to about two dozen bags of ice.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami is tracking Tropical Storm Michael, which formed from a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea on Sunday.
Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.
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Michael, now a Category 2 storm with winds of 110 miles per hour, is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane with 111 miles per hour winds later on Tuesday. But forecasters expect the wind shear buffering the storm to decrease today, allowing it to continue to mushroom in wind speed. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Wednesday.
RMS looked at where hurricane Michael is due to make landfall and found that the most similar storms were Category 2 Kate in 1985, which is estimated to have caused around a $1 billion insurance and reinsurance market loss, or Category 3 Eloise in 1975 which is estimated to have resulted in a $3.6 billion insurance and reinsurance industry loss.
A high risk of rip currents at Atlantic Coast beaches.
In Georgia, which will be hit by damaging winds and downed power lines, Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for 92 of his state's counties.
After landfall, a cold front traveling across the U.S.is expected to pick Michael up and take it through Georgia and the Carolinas.
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