The storm - now located over the Gulf of Mexico - is sweeping toward the Florida coast at around 12 miles per hour and is expected to make landfall on Wednesday, bringing with it "life threatening" storm surges and heavy rainfall, the National Hurricane Center said.
Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Panhandle in decades. It is moving north (350 degrees) at around 12 miles per hour, packing maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.
Hurricane Michael is now a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday, adding that heavy rainfall is expected along the northeastern Gulf Coast.
"Today is the day".
An estimated 6,000 evacuees took cover in emergency shelters, a lot of them in Florida, and that number was expected to swell to 20,000 across five states by week's end, Kieserman said.
While Florence wrung itself out for days and brought ruinous rains, fast-moving Michael is likely to be more about wind and storm surge.
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. The core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning. After it ravaged the Panhandle, Michael entered south Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane - the most powerful in recorded history for that part of the neighbouring state.
Parts of southern Georgia are under a Tropical Storm Warning, which means that winds could reach up to 40 miles per hour.
Forecasters mark landfall as the place and time when the center of the eye strikes land.
Hurricane Michael is a Category 4 storm approaching the Florida Gulf Coast.
TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 08: Drivers line up for gasoline as Hurricane Michael bears down on the northern Gulf coast of Florida on October 8, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. "It looks like another big one".
More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.
The governor activated 750 National Guardsmen for storm response on Monday, on top of the 500 activated the day before. HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND -------- STORM SURGE: 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. As much as a foot (30 cm) of rain is forecast across Florida, Georgia and SC, the center reported. Authorities were also searching for a boy swept away by a river in Guatemala.
"The storm surge is absolutely deadly.
Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.
According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.
With a number of counties ordering evacuations, Scott waived highway tolls in the northwest part of the state. By Friday (Oct. 12), the storm will make its way out over the northern Atlantic, NOAA is now predicting.
Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes and the governor told residents who had not done so to "hunker down and be careful".
"Storm surge is the No. 1 problem that you can see from these storms".
A search and rescue team from Tennessee has been deployed to Alabama ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Michael. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and he said the roar of the storm sounded like a jet engine as the winds accelerated.
"A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday", NHC analysts predicted.