Hurricane Michael sends Florida, Alabama residents scrambling: 'It's very chaotic'

Hurricane Michael: 5 Facts About The Potential Most Destructive Storm To Hit Florida In Decades

Michael is a Category 2 storm, with sustained wind speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour (155 km/h), according to NOAA.

At 5 a.m., the centre of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometres) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometres) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph).

Hurricane Michael, now a Category 2 storm, is expected to strike the Florida Panhandle as a Category 3 storm, bringing life-threatening storm surge and rainfall flooding as well as destructive winds.

Officials in Bay County say they have not seen a rush of evacuees clogging roads inland - and that worries them with just hours left before Michael's landfall in the Panhandle.

The Florida Disaster website on October 9 said that parts or all of Bay County, Citrus County, Franklin County, Dixie County, Gulf County, Jackson County, Levy County, Okaloosa County, Taylor County, Wakulla County, and Walton County have been issued mandatory evacuation orders.

The National Hurricane Center has enacted hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings for more than 300 miles of the Florida coast. "We've got supplies to last us a week".

In Escambia County, on the western edge of the Panhandle, evacuations began in Pensacola Beach and other vulnerable areas, but not in Pensacola itself, a city of about 54,000. "You have rain, you have wind - but storm surge, that's a lot of water that can come onshore", said David Peaton, the assistant director of emergency management in Levy County, in an interview with local station WUFT. Forecasters expected it to hit the coast later in the day and warned of devastating winds and risky storm surge of 12 feet or higher.

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Hurricane warnings were posted from the Alabama border to the Suwannee River. "This might be really bad and serious". More than 10,000 people were ordered out of Panama City Beach alone, effective at 6 a.m. Tuesday. "But in my experience, it's always blown way out of proportion".

Michael could dump up to a foot (30 centimetres) of rain over some Panhandle communities before its remnants go back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days.

Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT).

The governor has activated 2,500 Florida National Guard members and waived tolls in Northwest Florida.

Scott also told caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all they can to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm. The governors of Alabama and Georgia also made emergency declarations.

Here are some other facts that show the power of this "monstrous storm". "Do not think you can survive it", Scott said.

The storm caused widespread destruction in Central America over the weekend, where at least 13 people have been reported dead.

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