Hurricane Michael sets sight on Gulf Coast

Hurricane Michael sets sight on Gulf Coast

The hurricane's sustained winds are expected to hit up to 120 miles per hour by late Tuesday, making it a major hurricane - the designation for Category 3 storms and above, on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

Florida's governor mobilised National Guard troops and thousands of Gulf Coast residents were ordered evacuated on Monday, two days before Hurricane Michael was forecast to slam ashore with life-threatening waves, winds and rains.

Florida State University and Leon County schools plan to close Tuesday through Friday, and the Citrus County School District announced school would be closed Tuesday.

As of the 4pm CDT advisory Monday evening, Michael was a category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

7A.M. The Tuesday morning update from the National Hurricane Center reports that Michael is now a catergory 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour.

According to the NHC, Michael will likely make landfall early Wednesday morning, and is "forecast to be a unsafe major hurricane".

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous hurricane" with a devastating potential from high winds, storm surge and heavy rains.

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The governor warns that storm surge could be as high as 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) in some parts of the Panhandle and 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) in the Tampa Bay area. "Don't take a chance", he said. "Do not risk your life, leave NOW if you were told to do so", the NWS in Tallahassee, Florida, tweeted Wednesday morning.

The Gulf Coast is forecast to see tropical storm conditions Tuesday night or early Wednesday, ahead of the hurricane activity expected for Wednesday. Mr. Powery said that he did not expect heavy rain locally, judging from the storm's trajectory.

"Alabama is once again in the path of a hurricane, but I know Alabamians will once again come together and be prepared for whatever Michael may bring", Governor Ivey said. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers).

By 11am Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 75mph (120 kph).

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for.

Although few forecast models were predicting it would reach major hurricane status at the time, it seemed possible given that the storm was now moving away from the Yucatan Peninsula landmass and toward warmer waters in the southern Gulf of Mexico, where it will encounter lower overall wind shear. The storm will also unleash flooding rain and destructive winds starting Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday. Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot (30cm) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. Tropical storm warnings are posted for the Isle of Youth in Cuba and the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a state of emergency due to the expected impact of Hurricane Michael. He added, "Today it is about life and safety".

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