Hurricane Michael quickly intensified into a Category 2 over warm Gulf of Mexico waters today amid fears it would strike Florida on tomorrow as an even stronger hurricane.
Mandatory evacuations were issued as beach dwellers rushed to board up homes just ahead of what could be a devastating hit.
A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye off the western tip of Cuba found wind speeds rising. By 1am this morning, top winds had reached 155kmh, and it was forecast to strengthen into a "major" Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of more than 179kmh.
The speed of the storm barrelling toward the Florida Panhandle ‑ Michael was already north of Cuba and moving north‑northwest at 19kmh ‑ gave many people only hours to prepare and flee before damaging wind and rain starts whipping the coast.
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