The National Hurricane Center says Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane at approximately 2 p.m., pushing a deadly storm surge and whipping the coast with 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds.
Byard said an estimated 500,000 people were under evacuation orders and advisories in Florida, where residents and tourists were fleeing low-lying areas in at least 20 counties stretching along 200 miles (322 km) of shore in the Panhandle and adjacent Big Bend region.
The storm then looks destined to move through the southeast US on Thursday as a tropical storm, bringing heavy rains to Georgia and the Carolinas, before moving back out to the Atlantic on Friday. "We've got supplies to last us a week".
Landfall is expected by the afternoon on Wednesday, near Panama City, FL. Storm surge could be over a foot in Panama City and massive damage there is expected. The areas from Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island and between the Alabama-Florida border and the Okaloosa-Walton county line could see 2 feet to 4 feet of storm surge.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a storm surge warning for portions of the coasts of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature Coast.
A hurricane warning was in place from the Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Suwannee River and a tropical storm warning was in effect for north of Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Duck, N.C., and Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. "This might be really bad and serious. But in my experience, it's always blown way out of proportion".
Michael could dump up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain over some Panhandle communities before it sweeps through the Southeast and goes back out to sea by way of the mid-Atlantic states over the next few days.
As the storm closed in on the USA, it caused havoc in the Caribbean. The governor activated 2,000 members of the Florida National Guard on Tuesday to deal with the fast-moving storm, adding he is very concerned about a potentially "historic" storm surge when it makes landfall. 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.
At that strength, it would rank as the most powerful storm to strike the Panhandle in more than a decade. Cuban authorities said they evacuated about 400 people from low-lying areas. The governors of Alabama and Georgia also made emergency declarations.
"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.
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