Residents along parts of the Florida coast were ordered out late Monday as Hurricane Michael gained strength as it barrels toward the area, with forecasters now predicting it will hit as a Category 3 hurricane. “Everybody take this seriously,” Gov. Rick Scott told residents at a press conference. “You always prepare for the worst. This is a massive storm. We’ve not seen anything like it in the Panhandle.” As of Monday night, the hurricane had sustained winds of 90 mph as it made its way into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center warned of a “life-threatening storm surge” along the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature Coast once the storm makes landfall Wednesday. Parts of the Florida Gulf Coast have also been told to brace for “life-threatening winds” that will also affect parts of Georgia and Alabama. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the counties of Wakulla, Franklin, Gulf, and Bay. Public schools will also reportedly be closed starting Tuesday.
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