Hurricane Michael Upgraded To Category 4 As It Nears Florida

Hurricane Michael made its way through the Gulf of Mexico Monday

Michael is moving north through the Gulf of Mexico and will likely become a major hurricane before making landfall Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle.

U.S. Air Force pilots spent a cloudy October 9 morning crossing through the violent winds of Hurricane Michael.

Florida residents are scrambling to flee their homes as Hurricane Michael bears down on the state.

Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 storm as it moved closer to the Florida coast.

Up to 12 inches of rain could fall in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend, southeastern Alabama and southern Georgia.

Up to 30cm (1ft) of rainfall is forecast for some of the areas in Michael's path - with Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas all warned to expect prodigious amounts of rain. The Carolinas are still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence six weeks ago, and Michael is expected to be orders of magnitude stronger than Florence.

The governor said state authorities are now focusing on the recovery effort once the fast-moving storm blows through.

Rick Scott posted a series of tweets overnight warning residents along the coast to evacuate.

Scott extended a state of emergency to 35 counties and activated 2,500 National Guardsmen for hurricane duty.

The leading edge of Hurricane Michael has hit the Florida coast as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm.

The brutish storm has grown swiftly into what could be one of the panhandle's worst hurricanes in memory, with destructive winds, up to 30 centimetres of rain and a storm surge of up to four metres.

Its center is located 200 miles south southwest of Apalachicola and 225 miles south of Panama City.

US President Donald Trump has approved a federal pre-landfall Emergency Declaration - enabling resources and assistance for areas impacted by the hurricane.

"This storm is truly going to be historic in the panhandle as the strongest that's ever hit this area", he said.

The depression has winds of 35 miles per hour and is expected to move north and east in the coming days.

Although the risk is lower, there will be some severe storms with possible tornadoes for the rest of us.

The entire Midlands area is under a tropical storm warning ahead of an impact from Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4 storm.