Hurricane Michael, which forecasters expect to make landfall around Panama City Wednesday, has forced mandatory evacuation orders for coastal or low-lying areas for almost a dozen counties as of Tuesday, according to the state emergency web site: Bay, Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Taylor, Wakulla and Walton.
Residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties were ordered to evacuate by late Monday or early Tuesday.
In an 8 a.m. update Tuesday, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Michael had strengthened to a Cat 2 storm with sustained winds of 100 miles per hour after appearing to take a brief pause in strengthening overnight, likely due to dry air and upper level wind shear.
Catastrophe risk modelling firm RMS has highlighted some key differences between hurricane Michael, which is heading for the Florida coast and expected to be a major category storm at landfall, with recent hurricane Florence.
The National Hurricane Center projects widespread rainfall amounts of four to eight inches, from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas north into Georgia and SC, and isolated amounts of up to a foot.
The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain with storm surges up to 3.7m, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Gillum said Monday that officials initially thought, "we will have outages and it will be inconvenient".More news: New colour fabric case for Pixel 3 shows up at United States retailer
A hurricane watch is in effect for coastal Alabama and a tropical storm watch is in effect for coastal Mississippi.
The most recent October landfalling hurricane in the Florida Panhandle was Hurricane Opal - a Category 3 storm in 1995.
Storm surge that could be greater than 6 feet is forecast as far south as Crystal River with more than 9 feet into Apalachicola Bay.
Michael was a Category 1 hurricane but could make landfall as a Category 3, and forecasters warned it could send down 10 to 30 centimetres of rain.
Three Florida Panhandle counties have issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Hurricane Michael's expected landfall.
As the storm moved north it battered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba with drenching rains and winds of up to 130km/h, forecasters said.
The expected path for Hurricane Michael as of October 9, 2018.More news: Kim, Pompeo agree to 2nd US-North Korea summit
The storm was about 220 kilometres east-northwest of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of winds of 120 kilometres per hour, forecasters said. "So we need the residents to be leaving today. because by this evening, those bridges are going to be in peril of being closed".
Interested in Hurricane Michael? "Take care of them", Scott said. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (282 kilometers).
Volusia County Beach Safety secured non-essential equipment off of the beach due to the predicted wind and swell, said spokeswoman Captain Tamara Malphurs.
Currently, the bulk of the forecast model guidance has the storm tracking southeast of the Maritimes, as well as Newfoundland this weekend.
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency for 92 counties.
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency, saying on Twitter that it was "in anticipation of wide-spread power outages, wind damage and debris produced by high winds & heavy rain associated with #HurricaneMichael".
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, filled sandbags with residents and urged the state capital's residents to finish emergency preparations quickly.More news: China says Interpol chief being probed on suspicion of violating the law