TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A hurricane hunter plane reports Michael has gotten a little stronger as it moves off of the western tip of Cuba.
By 8 p.m. Monday, Michael’s top sustained winds were around 85 mph as it headed north at 12 mph.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm is centered about 60 miles off the western tip of Cuba, and about 485 miles south of Apalachicola, Florida. Hurricane-force winds extend out up to 35 miles and tropical-storm-force winds outward about 175 miles.
Forecasters at the Miami center say Michael is expected to strengthen quickly and become a major hurricane by Tuesday night. Landfall is expected Wednesday on Florida’s northeast Gulf Coast.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan warned residents during a news conference Monday evening that first responders won’t be able to reach them during the storm or immediately after.
“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. “That’s the criticality of following directions.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during a news conference Monday that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has reached out to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities to make sure they’re prepared. In the days following Hurricane Irma last year, 14 people died after a South Florida nursing home lost power and air conditioning.
“My expectation is if you’re responsible for a patient, you’re responsible for the patient. Take care of them,” Scott said. “That means you need to make sure that you have backup generation power, or you shouldn’t be taking care of the patients. It’s as simple as that. So my expectation is everybody gets taken care of.”