Hurricane Michael cranks up to a Category 2 storm

Hurricane Michael is seen as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico in this satellite image taken Monday

Hurricane Michael, a "major" Category 3 storm, was becoming "better organized" and is forecast to intensify as it barrels towards Florida's Gulf Coast, where it's expected to make landfall, officials said.

Check the table below to see predicted sites of major and moderate flooding, based on the lastest data from the National Weather Service.

Weather models Monday showed that rain beginning Tuesday and continuing Wednesday.

The storm then looks destined to move through the southeast USA on Thursday as a tropical storm, bringing heavy rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, before moving back out to the Atlantic on Friday. The storm should also bring breezy conditions to Western North Carolina Thursday.

The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade.

Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen for hurricane duty.

Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane, based on wind speeds, to make landfall in the continental United States since Irma in September of previous year.

He said: "My expectation is if you are a health care facility you have a responsibility to take care of those patients".

"I feel like that they should've provided something", she said.

Panhandle in more than a decade.

"We're looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than I've seen in my 59 years of life", Johnson said of the city, straddling the shore of Apalachicola Bay, a Gulf of Mexico inlet that reaps about 90 percent of Florida's oysters.

Some 120,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders in Bay County in the panhandle, a low-lying area of beachfront resorts and retirement communities.

There will be no shelters open in Wakulla County, the sheriff's office warned on Facebook, because they are rated safe only for hurricanes with top sustained winds below 111 miles per hour (178 kph). With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger, residents there were urged to evacuate inland. As the storm approaches the coastline, she says this water will flow over a shallow sea bed and "overwhelm the dunes, which are relatively low and narrow".

The highest concern for damaging winds, of course, is near the center of the storm.

Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area - the crook of Florida's elbow - could see up to 12 feet (3.7 metres) of storm surge.

Even neighbors in Alabama were bracing.

Hurricane Michael, which is located 335 miles south of Panama City and moving north at 12mph, is expected to pick up more power before slamming into the popular white beaches of the Panhandle.

National Hurricane Center track for Hurricane Michael, as of Tuesday afternoon. The designation means tropical storm force winds (39 to 73 mph) are expected in the area within 48 hours. Forecasters warned of up to 30cm of rain in western Cuba, triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas, and disaster agencies in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua reported 13 deaths as roofs collapsed and residents were carried away by swollen rivers.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum helped residents in Florida's capital fill sandbags as the monster storm loomed. 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, citing reports from 27 companies. Local authorities fear power outages and major tree damage from Michael.

A hurricane hunter plane has found that Michael continues to strengthen as it moves north over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

After a summer of scorching heat waves, deadly wildfires, flooding, flooding, and more flooding, we were tired.

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