'WORST CASE SCENARIO': Florida Panhandle braces for Michael

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael lower right churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle early

Bar owner Dorothy White puts away outdoor furniture at Ouzts Too bar prior to the arrival of Hurricane Michael on Tuesday near Newport, Fla.

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. "If you don't follow warnings from officials this storm could kill you", said Scott, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in November's congressional elections.

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's Panhandle, from Pensacola to Apalachicola, and its Big Bend area are the zones of greatest concern.

"The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone", he warned later on Wednesday morning.

"We expect Hurricane Michael to make landfall near Panama City, Florida, Wednesday midday or early afternoon", according to AccuWeather forecaster Dan Kottlowski.

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After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move north-east on Wednesday and Thursday along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

Any time a tropical system, and it's remnants, move north up the East Coast we need to be concerned here in ME for wind and rain. While the swiftly moving storm is not expected to linger over Florida for long, widespread heavy downpours will likely track inland to flood-stricken areas of the Carolinas even as rain-gorged rivers there begin to recede, National Weather Service meteorologist Ken Widelski told the conference call.

Mr Scott warned that he may order more evacuations due to the size of the potential storm surge. "Listen to locals. Don't go out in the middle of this, you're not going to survive it".

Scott said that he's called up 2,500 members of the National Guard to assist, and has more than 1,000 rescuers at the ready.

The neighbouring states of Alabama and Georgia have also declared a state of emergency. Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

Late Monday, residents of far western Cuba were forecast to get up to eight inches of rain. Tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate coastal areas as the storm moved over the Gulf of Mexico, bringing winds of 120mph and disrupting oil production.

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