Supercharged overnight, Hurricane Michael menaces Florida

Hurricane Michael seen from space off the coast of Florida

Waves crash against the Malecon, triggered by the outer bands of Hurricane Michael, as tourists drive past in a classic American vehicle in Havana, Cuba.

Hurricane Michael is gaining strength as it barrels toward the Florida Panhandle.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has warned residents to evacuate.

NPR and our member stations covering the storm want to hear about how you're preparing for the storm and what you're anxious about.

Florida officials said roughly 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast had been urged or ordered to evacuate.

Michael is poised to make landfall on the Panhandle later Wednesday while pushing up to 13 feet of ocean water into the coast and drenching parts of three states in as much as a foot of rain. This is a serious situation for the Florida Panhandle and downstream areas in southeastern Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

A red flag, warning of unsafe conditions, is seen as Hurricane Michael approaches Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. October 10, 2018.

Evacuations as Florida braces for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael
But forecasters said its winds and outer rainbands would begin to start lashing the coast hours ahead of the eye. Traffic slowed to a crawl on a coastal highway in Panama City Beach as many people tried to heed Florida Gov.

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Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson said the city, which could suffer some of the worst of the storm surge, was under mandatory evacuation orders. The biggest city on the coast where it will make landfall, Panama City, has a population of less than 40,000. And isolated tornadoes were also possible. About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby. "Listen to locals. Don't go out in the middle of this, you're not going to survive it".

Michael 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.

Images on social media showed evacuating families wading through water to get to safety.

The storm, which formed off the coast of northern Honduras, has already killed at least 13 people in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador after torrential rains triggered flash-flooding and landslides in Central America over the weekend.

Parts of western Cuba, which was hit by the storm on Monday, were forecast to receive up to a foot of rain.

By late Tuesday, Michael was causing major disruptions to US oil and gas production as it churned north, gathering greater strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida, freeing up federal assistance to supplement state and local disaster response.

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