Florida bracing for Hurricane Michael

The "monstrous" Category 3 hurricane is closing in on the Florida Panhandle with storm surges forecast at up to 12 feet.
4:45 | 10/09/18

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Transcript for Florida bracing for Hurricane Michael
And good evening from Panama City, Florida, tonight, where they are preparing for a powerful and deadly hurricane already. Tonight, it's been upgraded to a category 3. Winds at 120 miles an hour. And the trains hurricane hunters just telling me from the air tonight that this hurricane is traveling across the warm waters of the gulf, and this will likely get much stronger. To give you an idea of where we're standing tonight, we're on Panama City beach. Just a few people left here, and that's a good thing, because this could potentially be the strongest hurricane here in more than a decade. You can see the skies are already gray and the surf is picking up. The hurricane has been intensifying with very little to knock out any of its power before it gets here. You can see the eye forming much more clearly now, as it spins over those warm waters. Mandatory evacuations under way tonight. And this hurricane will bring destructive winds across several states. Florida, Alabama and Georgia all have states of emergency tonight. This hurricane, as I mentioned, has already killed more than a dozen people on its way here, and tonight, Florida's governor is warning everyone here this storm can kill. ABC's Victor Oquendo, also in Florida with dramatic pictures from one of the cruise ships out at sea. Reporter: Tonight, the ferocity of hurricane Michael seen first-hand on the high seas. The awesome display of raw power captured in slow motion. Those outer bands lashing the empress of the seas cruise ship off the coast of Cuba as Michael roared by. We battled 13 to 15-foot swells last night. There was heavy rains at point. There was lightning out in the distance. Reporter: We're told all passengers are safe tonight. Michael now taking aim at the gulf coast. The surf already churning near key west. In cedar key, sirens announced mandatory evacuations. In the storm zone, shelves are emptying. Supplies dwindling. First responders filling the tanks of their ambulances. Florida's governor calling the storm monstrous. The storm is dangerous and if you don't follow warnings from officials, this storm could kill you. Reporter: In apalachicola, we met Ben coogle getting his boat to safety. Why so important to get it out of here? I don't want it to sink. I just hauled it back to Georgia and rebuilt the thing. Spent two years on it. Reporter: The view from space, massive. Michael is now some 400 miles across. The storm already wreaking havoc in Central America. Heavy rains and mudslides in El Salvador. And a race to save the driver of this ambulance in Nicaragua. More than a dozen killed in the region. Back here in Florida, we found les Stephenson boarding up his Tallahassee music supply store. What time you guys think you'll be closing up shop for good? Soon as we finish these boards. Reporter: He's taking this seriously. This is the first time he's had to do this in more than 30 years. And Victor joins us live tonight from Tallahassee, Florida. And Victor, I know they're really concerned here about the storm surge, 300 miles of coastline under warnings tonight. But the winds are also a very real threat here. Reporter: That's right, David. Michael's winds now at 120 miles per hour and strengthening. We'll see that life threatening possible 12-foot storm surge in some places. But inland, like here in Tallahassee, for example, it will bring dangerous and destructive winds, trees will come down, power will get knocked out for days, maybe even weeks, as Michael rips through Florida and several other states. David? Victor, thank you. Chief meteorologist ginger zee is also right here in the storm zone tonight she has the newest track just in, before we came on the air, and ginger, I know you're going to take us through this hour by hour, when this hits tomorrow. Reporter: David, I'm seeing the tops of thunderstorms that help denote those outer bands, so, Michael is here and less than 24 hours from landfall. The maps show you where it will likely make landfall. Between here and apalachicola. It will slice across Wednesday night into Thursday, Georgia. Then Thursday, South Carolina, North Carolina, out by Friday. In its wake, it will have major impacts, even for places like Raleigh, with flash flood watches in place. But the heart of the impact will be wind and storm surge. As you mentioned, so, you can see some of the gusts. We stop the clock at 2:00 P.M. 80-mile-per-hour gusts. Move it to 5:00, it only intensifies. Then it's 90-mile-per-hour gusts. 41 there in Tallahassee. You saw it peak to 70. Even Savannah at 7:00 A.M. Thursday morning, 34 miles per hour. Storm surge, a huge issue. Up to 13 feet. And as I was driving here, David, I was reminded how vulnerable the homes are that are right on the water. This part of Florida has only seen a 125-mile-per-hour landfall twice in recorded history. This would make the third. David? Yeah, going to be a destructive 24 hours ahead. Ginger, thank you. And as you heard ginger say,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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