Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm with 145 miles per hour winds later today, marking the first storm of that strength to hit the Panhandle in recorded history.
The "monstrous" hurricane, said to be the worst storm in that area of coast in 100 years, according to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, is expected to make landfall later this morning to early this afternoon, bringing heavy rain, catastrophic winds, and life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet. In Panacea, the water was already rapidly rising.
Water already well past the boat ramp in Panacea (southern Wakulla county) as #HurricaneMichael storm surge moves in. Coastal locations in Apalachee Bay are holding-steady/slowly-rising, and this is with a outgoing tide. High tide is coming later this afternoon near peak surge. pic.twitter.com/iVpYd501Lb— NWS Tallahassee (@NWSTallahassee) October 10, 2018
"You cannot hide from storm surge. Every family must be prepared now…We can rebuild your house, but we cannot rebuild your life," Scott said at a press conference Tuesday, warning that "this storm can kill you."
Around 375,000 people were under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders across 18 counties in Florida in preparation of the storm, and a state of emergency had been declared in 35 counties prior to the storm making landfall.
Gov. Scott also reported that 2,500 National Guard troops were now active in the state, along with 350 State Troopers backing them up.
Forming near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday and having first appeared on radars just a day prior, Hurricane Michael is currently situated 80 miles south-southwest of Panama City, Florida, where it is set to make landfall, and is moving northward. The storm is expected to drop as much as 12 inches of rain in some areas of the state before continuing its path north into Georgia and moving northward into southeastern New England Thursday night and Friday.
"What you're going to see is a storm moving very rapidly through Georgia, and it will maintain hurricane strength through southwest Georgia and central Georgia as it passes through later today and early tomorrow," a representative for FEMA's told Good Morning America. "As this thing pushes through, you're going to see a lot of inland wind damage, you're going to see a lot of power outages for multiple weeks."
Massive power outages are expected in areas of Alabama, where Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency. Georgia is expected to be hit by damaging winds and downed power lines. The Carolinas, still recovering following Hurricane Florence, could see heavy rain, potentially causing flooding.
President Donald Trump has since approved an emergency declaration for Florida, permitting the federal government to provide resources and aid during Hurricane Michael.