PANAMA CITY, Florida (AP) — North Carolina’s governor has declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael.

10:50 a.m.

The storm’s path is forecast to run through the state where many are still reeling after last month’s Hurricane Florence.

Gov. Roy Cooper says he’s called up 150 National Guard troops and lifted restrictions on trucks that could deliver supplies to the state.

Officials have said that Michael isn’t expected to cause the same kind of river flooding as Florence. But Cooper said that Michael could bring up to 7 inches of rain to parts of the state, which could cause flash-flooding. He urged people in flood-prone areas to watch forecasts and heed any evacuation orders.

gettyimages 1048870074 North Carolina Declares Emergency Before Michael

A car is seen in a parking lot while flooding begins as Hurricane Michael approaches on October 10, 2018 in Panama City, Florida. – Hurricane Michael closed in on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as an “extremely dangerous” category four storm packing powerful winds and a huge sea surge, US forecasters said. The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the storm, which local forecasters are calling an “unprecedented” weather event for the area, is expected to slam ashore later in the day with “life-threatening” storm surges. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Cooper said tropical storm-force winds will likely arrive overnight into Thursday, and that the wind and rain could further damage tarped houses where people are working to rebuild.
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10:30 a.m.

The storm surge from Hurricane Michael has come ashore and is growing deeper.

According to a National Hurricane Center update, a National Ocean Service water level station at Apalachicola reported over 4 feet (1 meter) of inundation above ground level by mid-morning Wednesday. Forecasters have said the hurricane could push up to 14 feet (4 meters) of ocean water ashore in Apalachicola, surging over normal tides.

Waves are already gnawing away at the base of sand dunes at Panama City Beach.

Officials are upset that holdouts will soon be surrounded by water. About 50 people resisted evacuating from St. George Island, and two people on Dog Island, which is only accessible by boat, also ignored evacuation orders. Franklin County emergency management coordinator Tress Dameron told The News Herald in Panama City that people who stayed better be wearing their life jackets.
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9:50 a.m.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered 1,500 National Guard troops on standby, ready for deployment as needed as Hurricane Michael blows in. Hurricanes weaken after landfall, but Michael is a catastrophic Category 4 storm and is expected to remain a hurricane as it ploughs over Georgia.

Transportation officials are already anticipating gale-force winds by closing the main bridge over the Savannah River between Savannah and South Carolina. The Georgia Department of Transportation said the Talmadge Memorial Bridge on U.S. 17 will close at 9 p.m. Wednesday, because it will be too difficult for motorists to control their vehicles in such conditions.

South Alabama is another inland area that won’t be spared. Alabama’s Geneva County has announced a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the local emergency management agency has urged people to voluntarily evacuate from mobile homes and other places that could be unstable in the storm’s high winds.
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9:30 a.m.

FEMA Director Brock Long says his agency has nearly 3,000 people in the field ready to assist with Hurricane Michael.

He says teams and aircraft are ready to support any search and rescue missions in Florida or elsewhere, and that staging areas with commodities needed after storms have been set up in Atlanta and at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

He also says the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working “hand-in-hand” with Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He praised Florida’s use on Tuesday evening of the wireless emergency alert system to let residents know that the storm was getting stronger.

As for the many people who ignored orders to evacuate, Long said Wednesday that people “who stick around and experience storm surge unfortunately don’t usually live to tell about it.”
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9:25 a.m.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham is warning that a Category 4 hurricane will bring catastrophic damage to Florida’s Panhandle.

Graham says Michael’s top winds of 145 mph (230 kph) are powerful enough to peel off roofs and cause the “complete destruction of houses.”

Stretches of the coast could see storm surge of at least 6 feet (2 meters), with waters rising in some places up to 14 feet (4 meters) above the ground. Graham wants people to think about how tall they are, and just how high that water can be.

Michael is powerful enough to remain a hurricane well inland as it travels over Georgia on Thursday. Graham says falling trees will pull down utility lines, leaving some areas without power for weeks, and hazardous conditions will persist long after the storm blows through.

He says the aftermath of a hurricane is “not the time to start learning to use that chain saw.”
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9:15 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the impact of Hurricane Michael will be “horrible,” the worst storm to hit the Panhandle in a century.

Scott said Wednesday he’s “scared to death” that people in places such as St. George Island along the state’s coast had ignored evacuation orders.

He said he hopes that no one kept children with them as they chose to ride it out, but the time to evacuate from coastal areas has “come and gone.”

The governor said state authorities are now focusing on the recovery effort once the fast-moving storm blows through. He has activated up 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard and says thousands of utility workers are on stand-by.
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9:05 a.m.

Huge waves are pounding the shore at Panama City Beach, where officials have announced they are now unable to respond to any calls for service. Just inland in Panama City, the fire department says it will respond to only life-threatening emergencies and only within the city limits.

The biggest waves are shooting frothy green water between homes and up to the base of wooden stairs over the dunes and the skies appear menacing as tropical-storm-force winds lash the coast. Landfall is expected about midday Wednesday.
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8:25 a.m.

Michael is now a Category 4 hurricane and so powerful that it is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves over central Georgia early Thursday. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency for 92 of the state’s 159 counties.

A hurricane warning is effect in southwestern Georgia. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the entire Georgia coast, as well as much of the inland areas.

Between 4 inches (10 centimeters) and 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain are expected in southwest and central Georgia. From 3 inches (8 centimeters) to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain is expected in other parts of the state.

The National Weather Service said winds are expected to range from 25 mph (40 kph) to 45 mph (72 kph) in central Georgia, with gusts as high as 70 mph (112 kph).
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8 a.m.

Hurricane Michael is strengthening as it races over the Gulf of Mexico approaching a landfall along Florida’s Panhandle.

Forecasters say deadly storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall are imminent.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the Category 4 storm has maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph) and is moving at 13 mph (20 kph).

At 8 a.m., Michael was centered about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Panama City, with tropical storm force winds already lashing the coast.

The hurricane center says Michael will be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle.
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7:45 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning people in the path of massive Hurricane Michael that it’s too late to evacuate.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Scott said “If you chose to state in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.”

Hurricane Michael grew into a Category 4 storm overnight and officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say a storm that strong has never hit the Florida Panhandle.

Meanwhile the Bay County Sheriff’s Office warned residents that a “shelter-in-place” order has been issued, and urged everyone to stay off the roads. Sheriff’s officials say deputies will continue to respond to calls for now, but that will change as the storm approaches the coastline.
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7:15 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hurricane Michael would be the first Category 4 storm to hit Florida’s Panhandle.

In a Facebook post, NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said “we are in new territory with now Hurricane Michael and its 130 mph sustained winds.”

Feltgen says Bay County is the likely “ground zero” for Hurricane Michael on Wednesday afternoon.

The outer bands of the massive storm are beginning to reach the Gulf Coast. At 7 a.m. the center of the storm was about 105 miles (165 kilometers) south-southwest of Panama City.

A NOAA buoy located some 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City recorded sustained winds of 76 mph (122 kmh) early Wednesday. Forecasters also said a wind gust of 54 mph (87 kph) was reported at Apalachicola Regional Airport.
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5:30 a.m.

Some of the worst storm surge from Category 4 Hurricane Michael is expected to hit Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, which has ordered all non-essential personnel to evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast shows as much as 13 feet of water on top of the usual waves and tides could inundate the base, which is home to more than 600 families and on an island about 12 miles east of Panama City.

All base residents were ordered to leave when Tyndall moved to “HURCON 1” status as the storm closes in.

The base provided transportation but limited families to one large piece of luggage per family and one carry-on piece per person.

Tyndall is home to the 325th Fighter Wing.
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5 a.m.

Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 kph) with higher gusts.

At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph).

Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.

Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall as the hurricane moves onshore.
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2:10 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Michael has become an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

At 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, the eye of Michael was about 180 miles (289 kilometers) south-southwest of Panama City, Florida. It also was about 170 miles (273 kilometers) southwest of Apalachicola, Florida. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (72 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (281 kilometers).

Michael was expected to become one of the Panhandle’s worst hurricanes in memory with a life-threatening storm surge of up to 13 feet (4 meters).

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.
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12:30 a.m.

Hurricane Michael is roaring down on the Florida Panhandle, gaining strength so quickly that forecasters expect it to become a Category 4 monster once it slams into the white-sand beaches, fishing villages and coastal communities.

The brute storm that sprang from a weekend tropical depression gained in fury and size just hours ahead of Wednesday’s projected midday landfall, packed 125 mph (200 kph) winds as a dangerous Category 3 storm. Forecasters say it’s expected to keep strengthening in the final hours before it crashes ashore as potentially one of the worst hurricanes in the region’s history.

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate. Evacuations spanned 22 counties from the Florida Panhandle into north central Florida.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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