The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade.
The last major hurricane to hit northwest Florida was in 2005, when Hurricane Dennis made landfall at Santa Rosa Island, FL, as a Category 3 storm, the Northwest Florida Daily Newsreported.
"We're looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than I've seen in my 59 years of life", Johnson said of his city on the shore of Apalachicola Bay, which where about 90 percent of Florida's oysters are harvested. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Wednesday.
Petro says the problems with Michael will be compounded since the storm is coming just weeks after Hurricane Florence.
On its current track, it would make landfall somewhere along a coastline that includes the cities and towns of Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, Port St. Joe, St. Teresa and the wildlife reserves bordering Apalachee Bay.
"While 11 counties have already issued evacuation orders, it is expected that even more local governments in the area of the emergency declaration will consider closing offices and issuing evacuation orders on Tuesday in anticipation of the hurricane's landfall, also affecting the ability of these individuals to register", Rizzo said in a statement. Rainfall totals around five to 10 inches with damaging winds moving inland in parts of Georgia.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT: A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for...
"Storm surges, in general, used to be a leading cause of fatality with hurricanes, but now - because of evacuations and getting the word out so far in advance - [the number of deaths] has gone down", Joel Cline, a tropical program coordinator with the National Weather Service, previously told Fox News.
Michael is forecast to increase to a Category 3 hurricane when it smashes into Florida on Wednesday.
"The center of Michael will continue to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico this morning, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and tonight", the agency said. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.