Hurricane Michael Causing Minor Coastal Flooding Around Tampa Bay

Official Searchers find body in hurricane-stricken town

Official Searchers find body in hurricane-stricken town

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 35 counties along the Panhandle and Florida's Big Bend regions, mostly rural areas known for small tourist cities, beaches and wildlife reserves, and the state capital, Tallahassee.

Forecasters say some regions of the USA may see 12in (30cm) of rain, and storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m).

Michael threatens to become the most the most intense hurricane to hit the Florida panhandle since 1851, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University.

It is expected to quickly travel up the US East Coast after making landfall on the Gulf Coast.

More than 300 miles of coastline are now under threat, the National Weather Service has said.

A hurricane warning was in place from the Okaloosa/Walton county line to the Suwannee River and a tropical storm warning was in effect for north of Fernandina Beach, Fla., to Duck, N.C., and Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.

"We have done everything we can as far as getting the word out", Smith told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Governor Scott warned in a news conference that Hurricane Michael is a "massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle".

At that strength, it would rank as the most powerful storm to strike the Panhandle in more than a decade. "Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area".

"No one's going to survive" such a wall of water, he said.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 miles per hour (225 kph) with higher gusts. Fernando is anxious about the approach of Hurricane Michael because he sustained tree damage to his house in Florence and has tarps covering parts of the exterior.

Torrential downpours and flash flooding from the storm over the weekend caused 13 deaths in Central America.

Images on social media showed evacuating families wading through water to get to safety.

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