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    Hurricane Michael

    Fast Moving Hurricane Michael Targets Florida Panhandle (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

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    Hurricane Michael, which strengthened to Category 2 intensity Tuesday, is expected to speed toward the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3, with storm surge flooding, winds of at least 110 miles per hour and flooding rainfall. The hurricane is also expected to bring wind gusts and rainfall to other parts of the southeastern US Wednesday.

    "Michael could develop into a potentially catastrophic event for the northeastern Gulf Coast," the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Florida, announced Monday afternoon.

    ​During a news conference on Tuesday just north of Panama City, Florida Gov. Rick Scott referred to Michael a "massive storm" that could bring "total devastation" to parts of the state. So far, a state of emergency has been declared in 35 Florida counties from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay. Scott has already activated 2,000 members of the Florida National Guard in anticipation of potentially the strongest hurricane to make landfall along Florida's Panhandle Gulf Coast in 13 years.

    On Monday afternoon, Scott also announced that state health officials are working with hospitals and nursing homes to prepare for the storm. Last year, 14 people died following Hurricane Irma when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning due to the storm.

    ​On Monday afternoon, US President Donald announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was "getting prepared" for a storm that "looks like a big one."

    ​"Never ends, but we're all prepared, and hopefully it won't be as bad as it's looking. It looked a couple of days ago like it was not going to be much, and now it's looking like it could be a very big one, so we're prepared, and good luck," Trump said, addressing the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Orlando.

    ​According to weather.com, Michael is presently centered 360 miles south of Panama City, Florida, and is heading north. Mandatory evacuation orders have gone into effect for around 120,000 people in Panama City Beach and other low-lying parts of the coast in Wakulla and Bay Counties.

    "It's very chaotic," Cathey Parker, owner of Parker Realty of Mexico Beach (located just outside of Panama City), told WJHG/WECP Tuesday. "We have to bring the porch furniture in on all of them, and then some of them want the windows boarded up, the sliding glass doors."

    ​In some parts of Bay County, residents reported waiting up to 40 minutes for gasoline.

    "It's really different to be under that kinda pressure: to try to save your home, to try to save your family, to try to, you know, prepare yourself," resident Tammy Wilson told WJHG/WECP Tuesday.

    ​In addition, Panama City's airport will be closed Wednesday, when Michael is forecasted to make landfall. All major airlines have canceled flights to the city that day. According to reports, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, is also currently experiencing some storm surge from Hurricane Michael.

    Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has also declared a state of emergency in that state, anticipating widespread power outages from Michael. Power outages may even extend into parts of southern Georgia, according to weather.com.


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