Preparations for Hurricane Michael being made in Dothan area

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Dothan (WTVY)-- It's been 23 years since Dothan took a direct hit from a hurricane but that's likely to change this week.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for a portion of the WTVY viewing area as Hurricane Michael continues to intensify and move northward toward the Florida panhandle.

On Monday afternoon, forecasters issued hurricane warnings for Houston and Geneva Counties in southeast Alabama and all of Florida's panhandle and Big Bend region.

In Georgia, hurricane warnings are in effect for Seminole, Early, Miller, Decatur and other counties.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Dale, Coffee, Covington, and Henry counties in Alabama as well as some Georgia counties.

“My biggest fear was confirmed Monday afternoon with the latest data coming in. The general (model) consensus is for landfall along the Florida Panhandle coast sometime Wednesday, with midday into the afternoon looking most likely,” WTVY Chief Meteorologist David Paul wrote on the station's Facebook page.

That could put Dothan in the direct path of Michael, marking the first time a hurricane has moved over southeast Alabama since Opal in 1995.

“This is one of those things that jumped on everybody but our people have come together and they are ready. You don't mess around with something like this,” Houston County Chairman Mark Culver told WTVY.

In Dothan, utility trucks are loaded with supplies, storm drains cleaned, and emergency crews are on standby.

Dothan city manager Mike West predicts numerous power outages when Hurricane Michael moves across the region.

He and Culver urge people to get to a safe place and stay there. “They need to stay put and not travel during the storm or in the immediate aftermath,” Culver said.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, and Florida Governor Rick Scott issued state of emergencies in anticipation of Michael's arrival.

A mandatory evacuation in Florida is sending thousands scurrying to find shelter inland. Hotels in Dothan are booked and rooms are filling up elsewhere.

Schools, many government offices, and some businesses will close Wednesday and more closings will likely be announced Tuesday.