MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said it has alerted Filipinos in 5 southeastern US states to prepare for Hurricane Michael, forecast to crash ashore midweek as a major Category 3 storm.
The Philippine Embassy in Washington advised some 232,000 Filipinos in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to "monitor the movement of the storm and heed the warnings of local officials," the DFA said in a statement.
Filipinos were told prepare for storm surges, heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds until Thursday, it added.
The Embassy will also monitor developments and coordinate with the Filipino community in these areas. Those who may need assistance may contact the Embassy at (202) 368-2767, the DFA said.
Authorities earlier ordered residents of northwest Florida to leave their homes ahead of Hurricane Michael.
Michael is currently a Category 1 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour as of late Monday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
It was forecast to have the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday. It is expected to lash the southeastern United States the next day.
"Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night," the NHC said.
The first rains from Michael already started to soak the Florida Keys on Monday. Up to 4 inches were expected to fall through Tuesday.
Late Monday, residents of far western Cuba were forecast to get up to 8 inches of rain.
"This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC warned.
President Donald Trump, who was in Orlando delivering an address to a global association of police chiefs, said the federal government was ready and urged residents to be prepared for the worst.
"Can you believe it? It looks like another big one," he said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 counties, activating 1,250 National Guard troops in preparation for the storm.
"We are running out of time," the Republican governor said on Twitter. "TODAY is the day to get a plan, because tomorrow could be too late."
"This storm will bring torrential rain, heavy winds and dangerous storm surges to many areas of our state," he tweeted.
The Carolinas are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which left dozens dead and is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damage last month.
It made landfall on the coast as a Category 1 hurricane on September 14 and drenched some parts of the state with 40 inches of rain.
Last year saw a string of catastrophic storms batter the western Atlantic -- including Irma, Maria and Hurricane Harvey -- causing a record-equaling $125 billion in damage when it flooded the Houston metropolitan area.
Scientists have long warned that global warming will make cyclones more destructive, and some say the evidence for this may already be visible.
At their most fearsome, these low-pressure weather fronts pack more power than the energy released by the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.
With a report from Agence France-Presse