Evacuations ordered as Hurricane Michael speeds toward Florida in US

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael lower right churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle

NWS Charleston's latest advisory on Michael anticipates impacts along the SC coast as early as Sunday night, and minor to moderate impacts along the SC and Georgia coasts Monday until Thursday.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

Soon-to-become Hurricane Michael, a tropical storm is gaining intensity south of the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurlburt's weather staff and base leaders have analyzed the current storm forecast and decided a personnel evacuation is not necessary, the base said.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said in a news briefing.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall in the United States Wednesday night.

In addition to parts of western and northern Florida, a hurricane watch is also in effect for Mobile, Alabama and surrounding areas.

The storm's center track for now is projected to take Michael northeast into southwest Georgia over Albany and east of Macon.

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There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but the NHC's forecast model shows that the storm could hit Western Europe by next week.

St. Johns County Emergency Management said Monday that it is monitoring Michael and participating in conference calls with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, National Weather Service Jacksonville and National Hurricane Center to get the most up-to-date information. This includes Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee. Officials also alerted residents living on the coast of the possibility of flooding caused by the storm. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers). The system was packing maximum sustained wind of around 70 miles per hour, and is expected to achieve hurricane status later today.

The storm, born from a tropical depression that formed in the northwest Caribbean Sea early Sunday, was expected to enter the southern Gulf of Mexico on Monday and build up its winds to hurricane force by landfall.

Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm. Strengthening is forecast during the next several days, and Michael could become a hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Interests along the northeastern and central Gulf Coast areas are advised to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Michael.

By the time Michael makes it to the Carolinas, the storm is going to be flying, which should help lower the flash flood potential, but Panovich still believes there could be flooding in the mountains and eastern Carolinas.

"Areas hit hard by Florence may face disruptions to ongoing cleanup efforts or renewed flooding depending on the track of the storm", AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

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