Hurricane Michael was officially upgraded to a Category 2 storm on Tuesday morning, according to NBC News. Experts expect it to reach Category 3 on Wednesday, and it is being considered an extremely life-threatening storm to those all along Florida. The storm is moving into the Gulf Coast, and as it moves, Gov. Scott says that the National Guard and Florida state troopers will help deal with the evacuation and rescue efforts.
All in all, 2,500 National Guard troops are now active in Florida, with 350 State Troopers backing them up. The governor warned residents to take this storm seriously, as it could be the worst hurricane Florida has seen in a long time.
"Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades," Gov. Scott said on Tuesday morning.
Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall some time on Wednesday afternoon, by which point it will be a Category 3. However, Gov. Scott urged Florida citizens to evacuate as early as possible, as the destruction could start long before the storm reaches their shores. So far, hurricane force winds are extending 40 miles out from its center in each direction.
"Some hurricane force winds are going to go well-inland," warned FEMA official Jeff Byard.
"Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm. The forecast keeps getting more dangerous," Gov. Scott added. "Water will come miles inshore and could easily be over the roofs of houses. You cannot hide from storm surge so get prepared and get out if an evacuation is ordered. Remember, we can rebuild your house, but we cannot rebuild your life."
Experts are particularly worried about the power grid in Florida. The combination of wind speeds and flooding, as well as the high likelihood of the storm getting inland before it slows down, carry heavy risks for the electrical systems in the state. This is in contrast to the recent Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, which mercifully spared much of the power grid as it tore through the southeast.
Experts have been warning all year of a highly active hurricane season in 2018. Officially, the window for extreme storms closes at the end of November, though hurricanes have been trending later and later in the year. As the National Hurricane Center points out on their website, late September and October have become some of the most dangerous times of the year in coastal regions.