"Extremely Dangerous" Hurricane Michael Rumbles Towards Florida Coast

With maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour, Hurricane Micheal is bearing down on the Florida panhandle this morning, having intensified into what the National Weather Service called an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane. Winds along the Florida coast were already rising above tropical storm strength at the time, all but closing the window for further evacuations as the storm nears shore and moves inland later today.

Storm surge could reach up to 14ft in parts of the hurricane zone. Florida Governor Rick Scott called for residents along the coast to seek refuge immediately.

The storm surge in some places in Florida could reach more than 10 feet, the NHC warned.

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

Authorities told residents along the affected areas of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast that they had run out of time to evacuate and should hunker down.

The boardwalk in the resort town of Destin was almost deserted on Tuesday, the shops and adjoining restaurants closed less than 24 hours before Hurricane Michael was set to slam into this stretch of Florida's Gulf Coast famous for its white beaches.

The effects of Hurricane Michael may cause residential areas to become uninhabitable for weeks or possibly even months.

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BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday began evacuating personnel from Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production platforms.

"This storm will bring torrential rain, heavy winds and unsafe storm surges to many areas of our state", he tweeted.

A tropical storm warning was issued from Fernandina Beach Florida to South Santee River South Carolina. US producers in the Gulf cut oil production by about 40 percent and natural gas output by 28 percent on Tuesday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said. About 2,500 National Guard troops were deployed to assist with evacuations and storm preparations, and more than 4,000 others were on standby.

"Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", it said. Some 17,000 utility restoration workers were also on call.

Florida State University announced it was closing for the week on Tuesday, along with schools in Leon County, home to the state capital Tallahassee.

The last major hurricane to hit the Panhandle was Hurricane Dennis in 2005, according to hurricane center data.

At least 13 storm-related deaths have been reported in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

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