Eyeing the Canadian connection, Hurricane Michael races past

A hotel employee in Wilmington shines a light in a dark hallway during Hurricane Florence while power outages across the region lasted for several days

An estimated 120,000 people along the Florida Panhandle were ordered to clear out on Tuesday as Hurricane Michael rapidly picked up steam in the Gulf of Mexico and closed in with winds of 110 miles per hour and a potential storm surge of 12 feet.

Florida has issued mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders in at least 22 counties on the Gulf Coast, with Governor Rick Scott urging people yesterday to get out of the way of the "monstrous storm", CNN reported.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered a troubling forecast of his own, saying there will be fatal consequences if people try to go out unprotected. "We have done everything we can as far as getting the word out", Smith said. Apalachicola Regional Airport recorded a wind gust of 56 miles per hour, the center said. "If it does I guess we'll be swimming", he said Tuesday evening as the sky darkened overhead.

Michael would be just the fourth major hurricane - Category 3, 4 or 5 - to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle since 1950, joining Eloise (1975), Opal (1995) and Dennis (2005).

"If this trend continues overnight, people in the Florida Panhandle could wake up to having a Category 4 hurricane on their doorstep", senior NHC hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said during a live webcast.

As of 06.00 am, Michael was about 290 kilometers south of Panama City and moving north at 19 kph.

Forecasters on Wednesday warned people in the southern USA state of Florida to be ready for the full impact of "extremely dangerous" Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Michael, pictured in a satellite image taken on October 8, 2018, when it was still a tropical storm, could produce life-threatening flooding. And about 375,000 people along the Gulf Coast were told to evacuate. And isolated tornadoes were also possible.

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"It's just not fair", he said.

"Unfortunately, Hurricane Michael is a hurricane of the worst kind", FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long said at a news briefing Wednesday morning. Forecasters said Michael's storm winds stretched 370 miles across, with hurricane-strength winds extending up to 35 miles from the center.

The NHC says some coastal regions can expect 9 to 13 feet of storm surge, as the hurricane's winds drive a wall of water onto the low-lying shore.

"For everyone thinking they can ride this storm out, I have news for you: that will be one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life".

Kemp said the bill totaled over $800 when she and her family fled Hurricane Irma's uncertain path past year. There is still some uncertainty about Michael's final track, and a slight westward shift would bring more heavy rainfall potential for Canada's east coast. Local authorities fear power outages and major tree damage from Michael. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging winds and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence's epic flooding.

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. In Bay County, emergency officials urged residents to stay off the roads and warned those who still remained in their homes to stay inside and seek shelter in an interior room with few windows.

Previous year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic - including Irma, Maria and Harvey, which caused a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.

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