ATHENS, Ala. - Hurricane Michael began the day as a tropical storm it was later upgraded and it appears it is gaining strength as it prepares to hit the Gulf Coast. It is is a popular destination for many people from the Tennessee Valley and many area residents are rearranging their travel plans instead of weathering the storm.
Larger than average waves are already beginning to roll into the Panama City coast.
"They're definitely bigger than I've seen at Panama City. We actually came last year as well," Andrew Kirk said.
Kirk lives in Athens and is on vacation with his family.
"We came down here it's Fall break for the Limestone County School System and we just came down for Fall break. Brought my kids. I've got two kids," Andrew Kirk said.
People are boarding up beach houses along the Florida coast. Several areas have mandatory evacuation orders, like Bay County, which is where the Kirk family is staying.
"It looks like we are going to have to leave either tonight or in the morning," he said.
The Kirk family is worried about traffic and being able to get out.
"You know everybody evacuating at the same time. So we don't want to wait to late and hit all that traffic and be stuck in traffic for 3 or 4 hours," he said.
Traffic is already being caused in some areas as people head to the gas station in case they can't fill up later. It's not what the Kirk family thought their fall break would be like, but they're happy to cut their vacation short if it means staying safe.