Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the fast-moving hurricane, which was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday along a relatively lightly populated stretch of shoreline known for its fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches. Michael was moving north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph) and is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and heavy rain to the northeastern Gulf Coast.
"We are in new territory", National Hurricane Centre Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said.
The storm, which has sustained winds of 60 mph, was about 25 miles east of Macon, Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said in a 2 a.m. ET advisory.
Even before landfall, the hurricane disrupted energy operations in the Gulf, cutting crude oil production by more than 40 percent and natural gas output by almost one-third as offshore platforms were evacuated before the storm hit.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).
Several hours after the hurricane made landfall, the eye of the storm had moved out of the Panhandle and was just west of Albany, Georgia, the NHC said.
His Democratic opponent in Florida's Senate race, Sen.
"No one's going to survive" such a wall of water, he said. "Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN.More news: Tropical system expected to produce squally, wet weather across S. Florida
Storm surges of between nine and thirteen feet are now projected for the gulf coast between Mexico Beach, Florida (just south of Panama City on the Panhandle) and Keaton Beach on Florida's Big Bend.
Forecasters said it could bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, triggering flash flooding in a corner of the country still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
With Hurricane Florence still fresh in the minds of North Carolinians, Gov. Roy Cooper urged state residents to prepare for another storm.
This image captured by NASA shows Hurricane Michael, while still a Category 1 storm, as it moves through the Gulf. It developed into a hurricane Monday.
Janice Dean has your Hurricane Michael FoxCast for the Florida Panhandle.
Michael wasn't quite done wreaking havoc in the Caribbean on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT).
In Cuba, it dumped more than 10 inches (27 centimeters) of rain in places, flooding fields, damaging roads, knocking out power and destroying some homes in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
According to the Associated Press, six people were killed in Honduras, four in Nicaragua and three in El Salvador.More news: Kate Middleton goes off-the-shoulder for night at the museum
"It is a monstrous storm and the forecast (keeps) getting more unsafe", Florida Governor Rick Scott said.
"While 11 counties have already issued evacuation orders, it is expected that even more local governments in the area of the emergency declaration will consider closing offices and issuing evacuation orders on Tuesday in anticipation of the hurricane's landfall, also affecting the ability of these individuals to register", Rizzo said in a statement.
He also warned caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all possible to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm. After Hurricane Irma a year ago, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning. "You know, that's hard", she said, choking back tears.
Bottomline - Petro says Eastern and Central Carolina need to take Hurricane Michael seriously.
At that strength, it would rank as the most powerful storm to strike the Panhandle in more than a decade.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has warned residents to evacuate.
"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.More news: Hurricane Michael Remnants Will Bring Heavy Rain To Parts Of New England