Strengthening hurricane closes in on Florida Panhandle

Tracking Michael What You Need to Know

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Highs should be in the 60s and low 70s through next Monday, Kimball said, with lows getting down into the 40s.

Overall, it's highly likely that Michael's storm surge will cause erosion at the base of the dune line for 75 percent of Florida's Gulf Coast beaches.

"You can not hide from storm surge", Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned at a news conference Tuesday.

Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental USA since Irma in September of past year.

"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient".

With an officiant standing in front of them, the couple said their vows on the beach as brisk winds brushed them.

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In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr said the 2300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades. Using the most recent storm surge prediction for Michael-released by NOAA at 11 am Eastern today-and property level data provided by Zillow, our preliminary analysis indicates that almost 50,000 coastal properties are at risk of storm surge inundation, though many more could be affected by flash flooding and heavy rain throughout the southeast. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued to about 120,000 people living in Panama City, Fla., and across other low-lying parts of the coast as the storm nears.

The hurricane has undergone a period of "rapid intensification", defined as a 35 mph increase in sustained winds over a 24-hour period. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger than that, Wakulla County residents were urged to evacuate inland.

The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. Since the ground remains saturated in places, that could mean flash flooding, and trees in wet ground can topple more easily in high winds.

If Michael's forecast holds true, the storm's surge and waves could bring water levels as high as 16 to 20 feet in the Florida Panhandle.

Even neighbors in Alabama were bracing.

Global analytics firm CoreLogic estimates that the total reconstruction value if all these homes were actually destroyed by what's forecast to be a Category 3 hurricane - winds up to 129 miles per hour - could amount to $13.4 billion.

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The earliest reasonable time the winds could arrive in the southern part of the United States is around 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the hurricane center. Forecasters said Michael's storm winds stretched 370 miles (595 kilometers) across, with hurricane-strength winds extending up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center.

Michael lashed western Cuba Monday with heavy rains and strong winds. The storm was centered about 365 miles south of Apalachicola and 395 miles south of Panama City, Florida.

Only three major hurricanes have made landfall in the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum helped residents in Florida's capital fill sandbags as the monster storm loomed. "This is the real thing, a significant threat to life and safety". "There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts".

Much of the state saw the "real thing" a year ago, when Hurricane Irma force more than 6 million evacuations, flooded cities and left millions without power.

After a summer of scorching heat waves, deadly wildfires, flooding, flooding, and more flooding, we were tired. "I don't want to lose everything in the freezer, but it is what is", said Beaver as she loaded sandbags into her family's pickup truck.

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Scientists have long warned that global warming will make storms more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.

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