Tropical Storm Michael Moves Near Western Cuba

Chance of tropical depression or tropical storm developing in Gulf has increased

The Hurricane Center is forecasting that Michael will be a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) when it makes landfall Wednesday night or Thursday along the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend areas.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center on Sunday upgraded Tropical Depression Michael to a named tropical storm, saying Michael earlier had winds of up to 50 miles per hour (85 kph).

After landfall, Michael is expected to weaken as it tracks quickly northeast, and the forecast track brings the center across southeast Georgia and southeast SC in the Wednesday night and Thursday time period.

The governor warned that there is potential for "devastating impact to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend".

Gov. Scott will be traveling to Tallahassee today to receive a briefing from federal, state and local emergency management officials. Governor Scott also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas.

Unlike Hurricane Florence, Tropical Storm Michael, now located west of Cuba and packing 70 miles per hour winds, is a fast-moving storm. It is forecasted to become a Category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall somewhere in northwest Florida. The storm is most likely to make a direct strike on Florida's Gulf Coast, but coastal Alabama and MS also may deal with direct storm effects and should monitor forecasts.

While coastal areas and extreme southeast Georgia are expected to bear the brunt of the storm, Michael is expected to pack a punch as far inland as Middle Georgia which is expected to feel tropical storm force winds over 39 miles per hour.

Hurricane Michael sets sight on Gulf Coast
Rick Scott called Michael a "monstrous hurricane" with a devastating potential from high winds, storm surge and heavy rains. The storm will also unleash flooding rain and destructive winds starting Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday.

Michael, which formed near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday, is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain - and as much as 12 inches in some areas - on western Cuba before it hits the United States.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, where Michael could roll ashore on Wednesday.

A coastal flood advisory was issued for Monday and Tuesday in South Mississippi and Louisiana as the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth in Cuba, and the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

The hurricane center advised residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast to monitor the storm's progress.

Michael became the 13th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season Sunday afternoon and has it sights set on the northern Gulf Coast by Wednesday.

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