Peaton says he's working closely with the National Weather Service to provide accurate information and protective measures to his county, which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is especially vulnerable to any flooding produced by Michael.
Hurricane Michael continues to push towards the Gulf of Mexico and looks to continue its trend of rapidly strengthening. As it stays on that course Wednesday into Thursday, heavy rainfall accompanied by gusty high winds will spread over much of the lower half of the Peach State.
Other Midlands counties were placed under a tropical storm watch Tuesday afternoon, including Lee County, Aiken County, Sumter County and Calhourn County. Evacuations already had been ordered in parts of 10 counties, according to USA Today.
The storm was expected to bring up to 30cm of rain with storm surges up to 3.7m, according to the US National Hurricane Center. The designation means tropical storm force winds (39 to 73 mph) are expected in the area within 48 hours. Barbour and Quitman counties are directly across from each other on the Alabama-Georgia border.
The National Weather Service is now warning that Michael is a "potentially catastrophic" weather event, which could result in "the strongest hurricane to landfall" upon Florida's Panhandle in over a decade. "Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves through the southeastern United States" Wednesday night and Thursday.
Only essential personnel were expected to work Tuesday. "Downed trees and extended power outages will be possible in these areas as a result".
American model forecast valid Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. focusing on the steering components of Michael's track.
In the small Panhandle city of Apalachicola, Mayor Van Johnson Sr. said the 2,300 residents are frantically preparing for a major hurricane strike that could be unlike any there in decades. Panama City Beach - which is projected to experience a surge of 6 to 9 feet along its coast dotted with hotels, condos, restaurants and homes - issued a mandatory evacuation for specific areas near the coastline Tuesday morning.
"We're looking at a significant storm with significant impact, possibly greater than I've seen in my 59 years of life", Johnson said of his city on Apalachicola Bay, where about 90 percent of Florida's oysters are harvested. "We wish all our guests who are traveling back home a safe journey". "If they tell you to leave, you have to leave".
As of the 4pm CDT advisory Monday evening, Michael was a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.
With the rainfall, the potential for gusty winds of about 15 miles per hour to 40 miles per hour depending on proximity to the Michael's outer bands.
Hurricane Michael has grown stronger as it moves toward a landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, with its maximum sustained winds reaching 110 miles per hour. The D.C. area should get a total of maybe an inch, with perhaps two inches falling in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
The storm is likely also to dump prodigious amounts of rain over Florida, Alabama and Georgia as well as the Carolinas, which are still reeling from severe flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
Those fleeing the hurricane's wrath will be able to seek temporary shelter in Columbus, with the American Red Cross receiving permission from the city to open Shirley Winston Recreation Center, 5025 Steam Mill Road, starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.