The NHC has forecast that Michael is slated to strengthen and will bring heavy rains, damaging winds, and storm surge.
Some of the storm's most significant early impact was to offshore energy production. USA producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 percent and natural gas output by 28 percent on Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.
For the Columbus area, the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga., as of Monday evening, is forecasting the possibility of tropical storm conditions much of the day Wednesday and into the night before calming down Thursday morning, with an 80 percent chance of precipitation to include heavy rainfall and wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour. Michael's location was about 90 miles southwest of both Panama City, Fla., and Apalachicola, Fla., the NHC said.
"Outer band of Hurricane Michael coming ashore here", Jon Ward in Panama City said on Twitter. "Light rain and thunder has just begun". Winds above 37mph (60kmh) and waves of two-to-three metres (6.5-10 feet) are expected on the coasts of Yucatan and Quintana Roo.
Peaton says he's working closely with the National Weather Service to provide accurate information and protective measures to his county, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is especially vulnerable to any flooding produced by Michael. For storm information specific to your area outside the United States, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service.DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK -- At 1100 AM EDT (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Michael was located near latitude 21.2 North, longitude 84.9 West. Michael is moving toward the north near 7 miles per hour (11 km/h). It's forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades, and it will send life-threatening surges of ocean water into coastal areas along the gulf. Up to a foot of rainfall (30 cm) is forecast for some areas.
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The region should brace for "major infrastructure damage", specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call.
Neighboring Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency on Sunday to 35 counties, and mandatory evacuations were ordered for residents of the state's barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties.
She was unsure how well her old, wood-framed apartment block would hold up. A hurricane warning was in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwanee River, with a hurricane watch in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.
"If you don't follow warnings from officials this storm could kill you", said Scott, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in November's congressional elections. Parts of Florida's curvy Big Bend could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge, while Michael also could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities as it moves inland, forecasters said.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency on Tuesday for 92 counties in his state.
Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm. Some 13,000 utility restoration workers were also on standby. Those who stayed emptied grocery store shelves of water and other supplies.