It is expected to become a Category 3 storm by the time it makes landfall on the Florida Panhandle sometime Wednesday.
Florida governor Rick Scott warned Tuesday morning that Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the "most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades". "It will be life-threatening and extremely risky".
"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.
As Hurricane Michael approaches the Gulf Coast, it is now being deemed a category 2 storm.
Evacuations have been ordered in parts of 10 counties. More than 100,000 people were ordered out of a long swath of low-lying communities, including many in Bay County, home of Panama City.
At their most fearsome, these low-pressure weather fronts pack more power than the energy released by the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima. The fix bill came in at more than $60 billion, ranking Irma among the most costly storms in USA history.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Hurricane Michael was centered about 420 miles (675 kilometers) south of Panama City at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Locally, Michael will likely lead to some flash flooding, minor river flooding, downed trees, and power outages.
Scott said the Florida Panhandle, southeast Alabama and southern Georgia will see 4 to 8 inches, with isolated areas facing 12 inches.
Some Panama City residents were seen on the beach enjoying the cool breeze ahead of the storm, while others were loading up cars with luggage and visitors were checking out of hotels.
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Michael", Deal said.
The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month.
Bottomline - Petro says Eastern and Central Carolina need to take Hurricane Michael seriously.
As of 5 a.m. ET on October 9, Michael's center was about 420 miles south of Panama City, Florida and 390 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida. "They are their best first responders".
"Heavy rainfall, wind and storm surge impacts will be possible across portions of the northern Gulf Coast by midweek", according to the hurricane center.
"We expect less rain to fall when compared to Florence", said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.