Michael upgraded to a Category 3 major hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on Wednesday and Thursday tearing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Data from hurricane hunter aircraft flying through Hurricane Michael show the storm is still strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico.

"Michael is forecast to be a hurricane, and possibly a major hurricane, when it reaches the northeastern Gulf Coast by mid-week, and storm surge and hurricane watches are now in effect for portions of the area". In the days following Hurricane Irma past year, 14 people died after a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning. It strengthened to a Category 3 storm late Tuesday afternoon.

Floridians in counties where election offices closed Tuesday for Hurricane Michael will be able to register to vote the day those offices reopen. Residents of this Florida panhandle city were busy Monday readying themselves for Hurricane Michael, which is predicted to make landfall somewhere around Panama City, Fla.

Storm surge could be life-threatening, the winds will be destructive, and power outages will last for days or even weeks in the hardest-hit locations. Residents in these areas should follow advice given by local officials, and keep tabs on live updates, which are available from CNN. The brunt of the storm will hit the Florida Panhandle and continue through Georgia and South Carolina Thursday before hitting central South Carolina and central North Carolina.

"Up to four to six inches of rain is now expected over the Carolinas, still recovering from the floods caused by Hurricane Florence".

"Let me be clear, Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm", Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during a media conference Tuesday morning.

"Families should take the opportunity today to make sure they have three days of food and water, as well as all needed medications", Governor Scott wrote on Twitter.

Michael is a Category 2 storm, with sustained wind speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour (155 km/h), according to NOAA. "That means the water will come miles in shore and could easily be over the roofs of houses", Scott said.

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In advance of the storm on Monday, emergency managers ordered mandatory evacuations along the coast expected to see the fiercest winds and highest surge, including Wakulla, Franklin, Gulf and Bay counties.

He declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties from the Panhandle to Tampa Bay, activated hundreds of Florida National Guard members and waived tolls to encourage those near the coast to evacuate inland.

When winds reach 119km/h (74mph), it is known as a hurricane - in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific - or a typhoon in the Western Pacific.

Hurricane Michael is coming.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.

Shannon remembers how previous hurricanes knocked out power in Florida's capital city, so he knows what's possible with Michael.

"I've been talking to mayors, to county commissioners, I think people are taking this serious", Scott said. By 8 a.m. Tuesday, top winds had reached 100 miles per hour (155 kph), and it was forecast to strengthen more, with winds topping 111 miles per hour (179 kph), capable of causing devastating damage.

Rainfall of four to eight inches, and as much as a foot in isolated areas, "could lead to life-threatening flash floods", according to the NHC, which also warned that the storm's approach could spawn tornados in north-western Florida. It is expected to become a hurricane by Tuesday.

Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Pasco County, Madison County, Liberty County Leon County, Hernando County, Gadsden County, and Calhoun County are under voluntary/phased evacuation orders.

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