Category 4 Hurricane Michael making landfall today

An are of low pressure in the far western Caribbean is expected to develop into a tropical depression or even a tropical storm on Sunday. Michaels is the next name up. The storm could threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday

NOAA: Hurricane Michael 2018 Projected Path, Spaghetti Models

With Hurricane Michael rapidly intensifying and threatening to smash Florida's Panhandle with unsafe storm surge, flooding and winds, Gov. Rick Scott didn't mince words on Monday night: "Making decisions tomorrow might be too late".

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous hurricane" with a devastating potential from high winds, storm surge and heavy rains.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties.

The Hurricane Center predicts the hurricane's peaks winds will reach 120 miles per hour at landfall, which would make Michael a Category 3 storm.

For the Columbus area, the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga., as of Monday evening, is forecasting the possibility of tropical storm conditions much of the day Wednesday and into the night before calming down Thursday morning, with an 80 percent chance of precipitation to include heavy rainfall and wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour.

A tropical weather system rapidly strengthened Monday into Hurricane Michael Monday and is likely to keep growing stronger ahead of an expected strike on Florida's Panhandle by midweek, forecasters said.

In the Washington DC region we are expecting the remnants of Michael to combine with an approaching cold front to bring us rain here late Wednesday night though Thursday.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for.

Michael has left emergency responders in the Sunshine State scrambling to respond.

There is a risk for tornadoes in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Think about what we've seen before with storms like Hurricane Irma", he said.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference.

Monday afternoon, Scott announced he expanded the declaration to include Manatee County, along with Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Alachua, Union and Baker counties. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from its center of circulation, while tropical storm-force winds extend outward for 175 miles.

Hurricane Michael has grown stronger tonight and is now up to category four status with winds at.

The storm has already caused damage in Mexico and Cuba.

By 11am Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 75mph (120 kph). The latest track from the NHC shows Michael as a category 1 hurricane entering the southwestern edge of central Georgia at 2 AM Thursday morning. The storm will also unleash flooding rain and destructive winds starting Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday.

"Today it is about life and safety", Gillum said.

In neighboring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on Monday in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.

Insurance companies Monday began to brace for the storm, bringing a pause to the writing of new homeowners insurance policies until the warning is lifted, as is standard before natural disasters.

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Watch Hurricane Michael make landfall on Florida webcams