Michael Blasts Ashore Near Cat 5 With 155 MPH Winds

'Potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Michael strengthens to Category 2, targets Florida

10 A.M. Hurricane Michael continued to intensify Tuesday morning as it marched northward toward a predicted Northwest Florida landfall.

Its winds shrieking, Michael crashed ashore in the early afternoon near Mexico Beach, a tourist town about midway along the Panhandle, a lightly populated, 200-mile stretch of white-sand beach resorts, fishing towns and military bases.

As residents of coastal Florida evacuate, Hurricane Michael is expected to grow more severe before hitting the area as soon as Wednesday.

Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Panhandle in decades.

Hurts said the majority of the impact across Tampa Bay will be felt on Wednesday.

The storm is now moving north, crossing into the Gulf of Mexico, and will likely curve to the east after its coastal impact. They're also concerned about flooding rains.

"Today is the day".

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate.

Meanwhile, tropical storm watches were in effect in some coastal areas of Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and SC.

Wakulla County issued a dire warning, saying it won't open any of its shelters - because they're safety-rated only for storms up to Category 2 strength, WFSU reports.

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7 A.M. Hurricane Michael has entered the Gulf of Mexico and is picking up steam as it tracks towards the Florida Panhandle at 12 miles per hour, according to the 7 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.

Winds are forecast to reach up to 110-miles-per-hour and some areas are expected to see an eight-to-twelve foot storm surge.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency, saying on Twitter it was "in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds & heavy rain associated with Hurricane Michael".

President Donald Trump approved a pre-landfall emergency declaration to provide federal money and help in Florida. It would also be the strongest storm in terms of wind speed to make landfall in the country this year. "It looks like another big one". Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border * Suwanee River Florida to Chassahowitzka Florida * north of Fernandina Beach Florida to South Santee River South Carolina A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...

"I am not seeing the level of traffic on the roadways that I would expect when we've called for the evacuation of 75 per cent of this county", Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said. However, forecasters always note it is not possible to say where a hurricane will land until it is closer to the coast.

"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".

People in areas that could be affected should take no chances against such a powerful surge, Scott said, adding, "No one's going to survive", such a wall of water.

Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen.

In the Florida Panhandle and surrounding areas, people are frantically boarding up homes, filling sandbags and planning for evacuation routes away from the storm's projected strike zone.

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