Hurricane Michael strengthens as it heads toward Gulf of Mexico

FIRST TO ALERT Tracking Michael

Fong, who lives in Miami, said he has stocked up on essentials and is keeping abreast of news on Michael.

Traffic has built up along a coastal highway on Panama City Beach, as residents begin to board up and move out. To receive alerts about Hurricane Michael from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, text "ALALERT" to 888777.

In neighboring Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey declared an emergency for the entire state on October 8 in anticipation of wind damage, heavy rains and power outages.

Currently, the hurricane is a category one moving towards the north at 9 miles per hour. The primary threat will be tropical storm force winds, which are likely for most of our area. High surf warnings were in effect already at the Alabama coast.

The rainfall could lead to "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides in mountainous regions, the hurricane center said. A hurricane watch is in effect from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, and tropical storm watches have been issued from the Suwanee River to Anna Maria Island and from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Michael is forecast to eventually make landfall as a major hurricane Wednesday morning along the Florida panhandle. Storm surge is not much of a concern because forecasters expect the hurricane to move quickly across the state, Martin said.

The storm's center and where it makes landfall with its destructive winds represent just one of several concerns.

"Heavy rainfall, wind and storm surge impacts will be possible across portions of the northern Gulf Coast by midweek", according to the hurricane center. "Grab your rain gear because it won't stop until likely Friday".

After striking Florida, Michael is forecast to move up the East Coast on October 10 and October 11 plowing through the Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Panhandle and Big Bend areas while coastal Manatee County and area waters are under a Tropical Storm Watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous hurricane" with a devastating potential from high winds, storm surge and heavy rains.

It is moving slowly moving north at 6 miles per hour and is starting to pick up speed.

In Pender County, officials are encouraging residents and businesses that suffered roof damage from Hurricane Florence to secure structures with tarps ahead of the storm.

A state of emergency was issued in Alabama on Monday as "dangerous" Hurricane Michael continues to barrel toward the US, with the potential to hit the Florida Panhandle mid-week. "It looks like another big one", he added. On Sunday, CEMA urged residents to maintain awareness of the storm.