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Wind shear will remain the only deterrent to the strength of Michael prior to landfal.

After landfall, steering winds will guide Michael on a curved and accelerated northeastward path into Georgia, the Carolinas and then Virginia into the end of this week.

Only three major hurricanes Category 3 or higher have struck the Panhandle since 1950: Eloise in 1975, Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005.

With the center of the storm targeting the central Florida Panhandle, that part of the area will get storm surge, hurricane wind heavy rain and possible tornadoes.

From the Florida Panhandle into Southern Georgia, the impending storm could bring 4 to 8 inches of rain, according to the NHC, with as much as 12 inches in certain areas.

Storms can force the tide in or out, which means possible flooding, but a recent dry spell locally means the ground can withstand more rainfall, Orrock said. In a press conference on Monday, he said Hurricane Michael was a "massive storm".

Residents of barrier islands, mobile homes and low-lying coastal areas in Gulf, Wakulla and Bay counties were ordered to evacuate by late Monday or early Tuesday.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend.

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A state of emergency was issued in Alabama on Monday as "dangerous" Hurricane Michael continues to barrel toward the USA, with the potential to hit the Florida Panhandle mid-week.

"The only real impact that I think this is going to have is going to be some flooding at the times of high tide", explained Osterberg.

Michael swirled into life on Sunday and began a slow march toward what forecasters predicted would be a Northwest Florida landfall. The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour, is expected to become a hurricane later today-and could be a major hurricane by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington advised some 232,000 Filipinos in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and SC to "monitor the movement of the storm and heed the warnings of local officials", the DFA said in a statement.

It was forecast to have the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday.

Michael has the potential to be the strongest storm in the region since Hurricane Eloise swept across Bay County in September 1975 with 110 miles per hour winds.

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.


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