(ABCNEWS) -Already a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, Michael is traveling north at a rate of 7 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that Michael will reach major hurricane status on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning as it nears the coast with sustained winds of 120 mph.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has now declared a state of emergency in 35 counties ahead of Michael’s predicted landfall on Wednesday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has mobilized resources from the federal government to assist with the preparation.
“The Panhandle and Big Bend could see winds in excess of 100 mph,” Scott said at a briefing Sunday evening. “Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state. This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous.”
Mandatory evacuations were ordered in parts of Panama City Beach starting Tuesday morning.
The storm will move further inland later in the week and bring rain and wind to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
The Carolinas and Virginia were blasted by Hurricane Florence last month, which dumped more than 2 feet of rain in some locations and caused record flooding.
The biggest rainfall from Michael is expected across parts of the Florida Panhandle and Georgia, with 6 to 10 inches expected. The coast could get up to a foot of rain. The majority of the rain will fall between Wednesday and Thursday morning.
The Coast Guard is now urging boat owners to prepare ahead of the storm by either moving their boats out of the water or to an inland marina.