Death toll from hurricane Michael rises to 17

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The bloom has spread to Florida's Panhandle and the Miami area.

"This is a life-threatening situation". The storm also will unleash destructive winds and flooding rain starting Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday.

But Fulton says Hurricane Michael knocked out a lot of the infrastructure that's needed to get the supply chain moving and get life-saving resources into devastated communities.

The core of the storm was expected to crash ashore around midday Wednesday near Panama City Beach, along a lightly populated stretch of fishing villages and white-sand spring-break beaches.

"Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", he said.

Florida officials said that roughly 375,000 people have been urged or ordered to evacuate. "The time to prepare is now. Do not take a chance".

"Pine forests were no longer - they were all sticks that were broken in two", Nelson, a Democrat, told Fox News.

"#HurricaneMichael isn't heading to any one town ...", the National Weather Service tweeted Monday. Following Hurricane Irma a year ago, 14 people died when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.

Long said the storm posed a direct threat to people who ignored warnings and evacuation orders on the coastlines, particularly given the threat of storm surge capable of tearing apart and flattening buildings.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Michael's top sustained winds had strengthened somewhat to 90 miles per hour as it headed north-northwest at 12 miles per hour. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds were outward up to 185 miles.

Environmental conditions are favorable for further strengthening until landfall, the Hurricane Center said.

In Gadsden County, Florida, the sheriff's office said Thursday they had four "storm-related fatalities following Hurricane Michael", although they had only confirmed the details of one death: a man killed when a tree crashed through the roof of his home. On Friday, he was in Mexico Beach on the Gulf Coast acting as a task force leader for a search-and-rescue unit.

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Meanwhile, a federal judge overturned Dassey's conviction in August 2016 on the grounds he was coerced into a confession. Avery and Dassey are now serving life prison sentences for the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach.

Storm surge warnings are also in place along the Florida and Alabama coasts.

Michael is projected to strike an area that is exceptionally prone to storm surge because of the adjacent shallow shelf water and the concave shape of the coast.

"If you decide to stay in your home and a tree falls on your house or the storm surge catches you and you're now calling for help, there's no one that can respond to help you", Morgan said at a news conference.

Indian Pass to Cedar Key: 8-12 feet. Swimmers and surfers were taking advantage of large waves along Anna Maria Island in particular. Forecasters warned that Michael could dump up to a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountain areas.

"I've watched on television, thinking of what others have experienced, like in the Carolinas and Texas", Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told reporters referring to earlier hurricanes. By Wednesday night and into Thursday, heavy rain will rapidly streak through Georgia and into the Carolinas.

Further complicating the response to Michael is that it comes so closely on the heels of another devastating hurricane in the region, Hurricane Florence last month. Parts of eastern Georgia and southern Virginia may also receive 3 to 6 inches. Hurricane Michael in the Caribbean could have also contributed.

"Guess what? That's today", National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said. "All these electrical poles and water lines are busted".

After the storm strikes land, this eyewall will quickly collapse, and winds will weaken.

The hurricane, one of the most powerful in U.S. history, struck on Wednesday with winds of up to 155 miles per hour.

A computer model run at the University of MI projects 2.5 million customers will lose power, the majority in the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia.

Michael gained new strength over warm tropical waters amid a forecast that it would swiftly intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida's northeast Gulf Coast, where frantic coastal residents were boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from the unsafe storm heading their way. The only other two major hurricane landfalls since 1950 in this region were Eloise in 1975 and Opal in 1995. "We want to get them out of the way".

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