As Hurricane Michael nears the Florida Panhandle, Central Florida could experience brief periods of heavy downpours and wind gusts between 40-50 miles per hour Wednesday because of the Category 4 storm, according to the weather department at Fox (WOFL-Ch. 35).
As of 2 a.m. EDT, Michael was moving north at 12 mph and positioned about 170 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, and about 180 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida.
Anxious meteorologists said it had the potential of becoming one of the worst storms in the history of Florida's Panhandle.
Some of the storm's most significant early impact was to offshore energy production.
Offshore energy production has already been affected - with United States producers in the Gulf cutting oil production by about 40% on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster responses.
Hurricane Michael gathered greater strength over warm Gulf of Mexico waters throughout the day on Tuesday as it jumped from a Category 2 to Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate, including all non-essential personnel at Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City. "Light rain and thunder has just begun".
The hurricane is continuing to gain in size - and forecasters have warned that Michael has the potential to be one of the worst storms in the region's history.
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NHC Director Ken Graham said Michael represented a "textbook case" of a system growing stronger as it drew near shore, in contrast to Florence, which struck North Carolina last month after weakening in a slow, halting approach.
Hurricane-force winds extend about 45 miles from the center, with tropical storm-force winds reaching 185 miles, the NHC said.
As the storm tracks northeast through Florida, Georgia, and SC, local rainfall amounts may exceed 100, 150, and even 200 mm. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas.
Americans in the region are being urged to brace for "major infrastructure damage" to electricity lines, wastewater treatment facilities and transportation networks.
Landfall is expected by the afternoon on Wednesday, near Panama City, FL. Storm surge could be over a foot in Panama City and massive damage there is expected.
Around 3.7million people are under hurricane warnings in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions of Florida, along with parts of south-eastern Alabama and southern Georgia.
He said: "You can not hide from storm surge".
On the exposed coast of Florida's Big Bend, most of the waterfront homes in Keaton Beach stood vacant amid fears of a life-threatening storm surge in an area that hadn't seen a potentially catastrophic major hurricane in decades. He declared a state of emergency in 35 counties.