The east coast of the US is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Michael, which has already lashed Cuba and is expected to reach Florida as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday morning.

Experts at the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami have warned that the storm has been upgraded to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, meaning it poses a serious risk to even sturdy buildings with winds of up to 156mph.

Rick Scott, governor of Florida, has called a state of emergency in multiple counties, saying Hurricane Michael could be “life-threatening and extremely dangerous”.

Tallahassee International in Florida’s panhandle – which could see the worst effects of the hurricane – warned on Twitter that all commercial services have been cancelled on Wednesday and will not resume until 0800 on Thursday at the earliest. 

Tampa International, which is not in the direct path of the storm, has said passengers should check the status of their flight before leaving as a precaution, although it expects to be able to operate as usual.

Alabama has also declared a state of emergency, and passengers are advised to keep track of Hurricane Michael and check their flights before departing for the airport.

American Airlines says it has activated its disaster response fundraising platform for the American Red Cross and has advised passengers to check the status of their flight. The carrier has a team tracking the progress of the storm to determine if cancellations are necessary.

Areas that aren’t in the storm’s direct path may still see harsh conditions due to storm surge.

Some states in the storm’s path are still recovering from damage and flooding caused by Hurricane Florence last month.

Hurricane Michael will continue to move up the east coast of the US throughout the rest of the week, so travellers planning journeys to the country are advised to check with their airline on the status of their flight.

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