Store owner stays put for Hurricane Michael

Ivey issues state of emergency for Alabama

He said tolls were being suspended in the state's northwest region to ease the evacuation process, and the Florida Highway Patrol is sending almost 350 state troopers to the Panhandle and Big Bend areas.

Michael, spinning in the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm Tuesday afternoon, is expected to strengthen even more before making landfall Wednesday, possibly as a Category 3.

Michael is moving north at 12mph and, after hitting Florida, it is expected to move up the east coast on Wednesday and Thursday, into North and SC.

Rain chances stand at 60 percent in Orlando on Tuesday and Wednesday before jumping to 70 percent on Thursday.

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

The storm's steady intensification over the past two days, despite shifting winds, "defies traditional logic" according to the agency.

The good news, however, is that cooler, drier weather is in store.

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

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In the town of Gros-Morne, one bed was covered in rubble, while the exterior walls of some homes were visibly cracked. After shocks were reported in the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental United States since Irma in September of a year ago.

Of the elderly and infirm patients, Scott had a blunt message for their caregivers: "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.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open because Wakulla County shelters were rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

"I haven't made up my mind yet, but I know some of my staff are going", said Dave Trepanier, owner of Firefly, a restaurant a block from the beach in Panama City, Bay County, an area where the hurricane is expected to come ashore.

High winds weren't the only danger.

Parts of Florida's curvy Big Bend could see up to 12 feet of storm surge, while Michael also could dump up to a foot of rain over some Panhandle communities as it moves inland, forecasters said.

The neighbouring state of Alabama has declared a state of emergency.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency in anticipation of widespread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds.

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"Michael will continue to pick up speed as it moves into the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico", News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges said. The storm was centered about 30 miles off the western tip of Cuba, and about 520 miles south of Apalachicola. 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. It is bringing heavy rains to Cuba as it moves due north at 7 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to reach category three strength before it makes landfall on Wednesday.

"Regardless of the eventual track and intensity of Michael, life-threatening storm surge inundation is expected along portions of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend/Nature Coast, and the storm surge watch has been upgraded to a storm surge warning for parts of this area", the center said. A couple breweries in the city offered free filtered water to anyone bringing in jugs or other containers.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo sent a letter to Gov. Scott late Monday asking for the extension, noting 35 counties are in a state of emergency.

"Today it is about life and safety", Gillum said.

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".

Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle with frightening fury.

Farther west along Florida's Panhandle, the city of Pensacola tweeted to residents, "Be sure you have your emergency plan in place".

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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.

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