Three counties ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Michael barrels toward Florida Panhandle

click to enlarge Three counties ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Michael barrels toward Florida  Panhandle
Photo via NOAA
While the National Hurricane Center expects Hurricane Michael to hit the Panhandle as a Category 3 storm, three Florida counties were issued evacuation orders Monday afternoon.

As of now, the evacuation orders only include Gulf County, Wakulla County and Bay County. Life-threatening storm surge warnings have been issued for these areas, as well.

Florida State University has pre-emptively closed their Tallahassee and  Panama City campuses from Tuesday through Thursday in anticipation of the storm.

Hurricane Michael, which was officially named a Category 1 hurricane this morning, is currently located roughly 50 miles south of the west side of Cuba, with a maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm is expected to accelerate into a Category 3 on Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.

According to the NHC, Michael will likely make landfall early Wednesday morning, and is "forecast to be a dangerous major hurricane."

Michael is now the seventh hurricane of the 2018 season, and will be the first major hurricane to hit this area since Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

Currently, Central Florida is only expected to experience some heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday.

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