Tallahassee: A fast and furious Hurricane Michael sped toward the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday with 110 mph winds and a potential storm surge of 12 feet, giving tens of thousands of people precious little time to get out or board up.
Drawing energy from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico with every passing hour, the storm was expected to blow ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.
While Florence took five days between the time it turned into a hurricane and the moment it rolled into the Carolinas, Michael gave Florida what amounted to two days' notice. It developed into a hurricane on Monday, and by Tuesday, at least 120,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders.
"We don't know if it's going to wipe out our house or not," Jason McDonald, of Panama City, said as he and his wife drove north into Alabama with their two children, ages 5 and 7. "We want to get them out of the way."
Coastal residents rushed to board up their homes and sandbag their properties against the hurricane, which was speeding northward at 12 mph (19 kph).
As of 2 p.m. EDT, Michael had winds of 110 mph (175 kph), just below a Category 3 hurricane, and was getting stronger as it moved over Gulf waters in the mid-80s. Its hurricane-force winds extended up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from its c...