A monstrous storm that sprang from nowhere is now threatening the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters say Hurricane Michael is intensifying as it takes direct aim to strike Florida sometime Wednesday.
People in low-lying coastal areas are fleeing the Panhandle as part of mandatory evacuation orders.
Forecasters say Michael was upgraded to a Category 3 storm Tuesday afternoon, packing in 120 mph winds. What's not helping: the storm is spending two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico which has warm waters and favorable atmospheric conditions for it to strengthen.
Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center advises, "There is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall."
Authorities are worried about a storm surge that could be as high as 12 feet. They're also concerned about flooding rains. Michael could dump up to a foot over the Panhandle as it moves inland.
Gov. Rick Scott warned Monday, "This is a massive storm...we've never seen anything like it in the Panhandle."
Scott has declared an emergency in 35 Florida counties and activated hundreds of National Guard troops.
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey has placed the entire state under an emergency declaration. She's especially concerned about widespread power outages. Forecasters are also predicting the possibility of spinoff tornadoes.
Scott warned north Florida hospitals and nursing homes on Monday to do everything possible to provide for the safety of elderly and infirmed patients.
Just last year, 14 people died following Hurricane Irma when a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.
"If you're responsible for a patient, you're responsible for the patient," said Scott. "Take care of them."