A hurricane warning was posted along more than 300 miles (483 km) of the coast from the Florida-Alabama border south to the Suwannee River.
More than 20 counties have been ordered to evacuate as the Category 2 storm continues to gain strength and has already disrupted oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
For Volusia and Flagler counties, the hurricane's path to the west will bring an increased chance of showers and thunderstorms, with gusty winds on Wednesday and Thursday.
Hurricane Michael, which is located 335 miles south of Panama City and moving north at 12mph, is expected to pick up more power before slamming into the popular white beaches of the Panhandle.
RMS said that, "Because Michael is expected to be a fast-moving storm, the potential impacts are nearly the opposite of what we saw in Florence".
At 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Tuesday, Michael's center was about 335 miles (535 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, heading north at around 12 mph (19 kph), the NHC said.
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. Severe storm surge is a possibility over a large portion of the Florida panhandle, with the highest surge expected to the right of the storm's track. But the surging seawater could also create perilous problems far from the coast, raising rivers and bays to risky levels as it pushes as much as 10 to 15 miles inland.
Forecasters said parts of Florida's marshy, lightly populated Big Bend area could see up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) of storm surge.
"The storm surge is absolutely deadly".
"You can not hide from storm surge, so. get out if an evacuation is ordered", he said. "Don't think that you can ride this out if you're in a low-lying area", Nelson said on CNN.
The region should brace for "major infrastructure damage", specifically to electricity distribution, wastewater treatment systems and transportation networks, Jeff Byard, associate administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told reporters on a conference call.
With a number of counties ordering evacuations, Scott waived highway tolls in the northwest part of the state. Up to 15 inches of rain is possible near where the storm makes landfall.
"You will see damage to infrastructure".
So Panhandle residents can not afford to be tired, as now is the time to heed the warnings of local officials, to make any final preparations ahead of the storm.
Henderson County is expected to get 3 to 4 inches of rainfall Tuesday through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
In Panhandle counties, most state offices, schools and universities were closed for the rest of the week.
Both Peaton and Scott encourage residents to have at least three days' worth of food and supplies and to check on their neighbors and monitor local news coverage.
However, the cold front should pick up Michael as it moves north, and kick the center of it out to sea.
The storm is now a Category 3 storm packing winds of more than 120 miles per hour and is expected to grow even more potent before it makes landfall Wednesday, likely near Panama City Beach.
"I just got a crew that came in that are staying also and they're in here helping me get everything buttoned up, tightened down, getting the food secure", Givens said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife has put 40 additional law enforcement officers on notice to deploy with a variety of special equipment, including boats that can be used for high-water rescues.
Commercial boats leave the Destin Harbor in Destin, Florida, ahead of Hurricane Michael.
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