Hurricane Michael targets Florida: 'You can not hide from this storm'

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Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for 26 counties, in order to free up resources and put the Florida National Guard on notice.

The NHC warned that the waves and rain could trigger deadly flooding, and that residents within the hurricane warning zone should likewise "prepare for life-threatening winds".

Ahead of the storm, Florida State University announced that it would shut down after midnight Monday and remain closed for the rest of the week.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said no shelters would be open in Wakulla County because Michael was forecast to become a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph).

Forecasters say Hurricane Michael will strengthen into a major hurricane by late Tuesday as it continues on a unsafe path towards the southeastern USA state of Florida.

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move northeast on Wednesday and Thursday along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. Storm surge could reach a monstrous 12 feet in some areas - enough to "easily go over the roofs of some houses", he said.

By 8 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 85 miles per hour (140 kph) as it headed north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph).

Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rain on Sunday and into early Monday (local time). The red tide in the Gulf of Mexico off southwest Florida that began last October after Hurricane Irma swept up the state has killed massive amounts of marine life and caused respiratory irritations in people.

In the Caribbean, a hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

Explosion reported at Irving Oil refinery in Saint John
Residents described feeling an explosion shortly after 10 a.m. 'We're sitting here and watching it burn right now, ' he said. Residents near the crude oil processing plant have reported hearing loud explosion coming from the 780 acre site.

FEMA administrator Brock Long said the agency was prepared for the storm in all the states likely to feel Michael's impact.

By the time Michael reaches the Carolinas, it will be a weakening tropical storm.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has also designated 40 law-enforcement officers for rapid deployment.

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

A Hurricane Watch was issued for the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River.

If high winds strike Maryland, the southern and eastern portions of the state are again at the greatest risk.

Storm surge watches stretch all the way from Pensacola to Tampa, Florida, with maximum storm surge projections now exceeding twelve feet in some locations. "I'm asking all Floridians to stay vigilant throughout tonight and tomorrow as we brace for Hurricane Michael to make landfall". "Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area".

Though Michael has a fierce core of winds around its eye, one of the biggest concerns with its eventual landfall is the storm surge likely to come in points east of wherever the hurricane's eye makes landfall.