Tropical Storm Michael Will Become a Hurricane Monday

James Marshall
October 9, 2018

The Florida Panhandle is on alert as Tropical Storm Michael works its way to the northern part of the Sunshine State.

On Sunday, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties in North Florida and around the big Bend, to establish time, resources and flexibility for government agencies to prepare for the storm.

"Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane of tropical storm can be", Scott said in a statement.

Michael has strengthened into a hurricane and is forecast to strike the northeast Florida coastline as a Category 3 with risky storm surge flooding, destructive winds and flooding rainfall.

Florida State University is closing for the remainder of the week because of Hurricane Michael.

The chances of tropical storm winds are low but it is possible that strong gusts Tuesday night into Wednesday might reach tropical storm force.

Emergency management officials in Tallahassee and Leon County also began distributing sandbags to residents.

"Michael is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next couple of days", the center said.

Masters compared Hurricane Michaels course to Hurricane Dennis, a Category 3 storm that hit near the Florida-Alabama border in 2005.

The storm now has maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. But within hours Sunday it had gained more punch and its top sustained winds clocked in at 60 mph (95 kph) by late Sunday evening. Tropical storm winds extended out 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the storm's center.

"If this storm hit Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge", said Scott, referring to two Florida cities about 600 kilometres apart by highway.

"If we get some additional rainfall on Wednesday, then when the heavier stuff gets here with the hurricane on Thursday and Friday, that would cause some flooding", Panovich warned.

The Hurricane Center also is watching three other systems far out in the eastern Atlantic but none are forecast to impact eastern coast of the United States. "Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area by Tuesday night or early Wednesday", the NHC added.

This morning, Michael was about 120 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

"The main hazards will be gusty winds, flooding and isolated tornadoes", the National Weather Service's Hazardous Weather Outlook for South Florida said at 11 a.m. Monday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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