Hurricane Michael is a storm to watch in Atlantic Canada

FIRST ALERT Michael is now a hurricane expected to be major hurricane at landfall

Michael was about 360 miles south of Panama City, Fla., and 330 miles south of Apalachicola, Fla., the NHC said in an 10 a.m. advisory.

"Guess what? That's today", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said. "You need to evacuate if you're ordered to do so".

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for.

With Hurricane Florence still fresh in the minds of North Carolinians, Gov. Roy Cooper urged state residents to prepare for another storm.

In addition to hurricane-force winds and heavy rain, storm surge flooding is a big concern along the Florida Gulf coast.

His opponent in Florida's Senate race, Sen.

He said that forecasters aren't expecting the same kind of major river flooding caused by Florence, and conditions should improve on Friday. Officials have also issued voluntary evacuation orders for parts of several other counties, including Calhoun, Gadsden, Hernando, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Pasco and Santa Rosa.

Some areas along the state's Big Bend area could see risky storm surge between six and 12 feet as Michael nears, the Hurricane Center reported.

Hurricane Michael is expected to reach Florida's Panhandle region sometime Wednesday, before slowly moving through the bottom half of the southeastern United States over the next day.

"I know people are tired from Florence, but don't let this storm catch you with your guard down", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, adding, "A number of homes have rooftop tarps that could be damaged or blown away with this wind".

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Michael is still wobbling in the northern Caribbean, on the brink of entering the Gulf and a more northward motion is expected to develop in the overnight hours and throughout Tuesday before an approaching cold front begins to push the hurricane northeast into the Florida Panhandle. It developed into a hurricane Monday.

Michael was packing sustained winds of up to 140km/h late on Monday and gaining strength as it skirted past Cuba's western tip, where it is expected to dump as much as 30cm of rain, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas. Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas.

Disaster agencies in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua reported 13 deaths as roofs collapsed and residents were carried away by swollen rivers.

"Hurricane Michael is a monstrous storm", said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, at a Tuesday news conference, adding that it could bring "total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the Panhandle". There is also little chance that the storm's path will shift majorly east or west, based on the latest models. The Florida National Guard has over 4,000 more Guard members available for deployment, Scott said. Following Hurricane Irma previous year, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

Of the elderly and infirm patients, Scott had a blunt message for their caregivers: "If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient. Take care of them", he said.

In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr said the 2300 residents were frantically preparing for what could be a strike unlike any seen there in decades. Many filled sandbags and boarded up homes.

RMS said that, "Because Michael is expected to be a fast-moving storm, the potential impacts are nearly the opposite of what we saw in Florence".

Even political campaigning took a back seat for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, who instead helped residents fill sandbags.

"There's nothing between us and this storm but warm water, and I think that's what terrifies us about the potential impacts", Gillum said.

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