The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center predicts Tropical Depression 14 will strengthen to a hurricane before making landfall in the western Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. Its movement speed was only 8 km/h. It was expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Michael on Sunday, and could become Hurricane Michael on Tuesday night or Wednesday.
A tropical storm that rapidly formed off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has gained new strength and could become a risky Category 2 hurricane with an expected midweek strike on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle, forecasts say.
The NHC says that Michael is expected to cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline because of a risky storm surge and tide.
The Democratic nominee for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, was forced to cancel his planned campaign stops in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, deciding to stay in the city instead to help with storm preparations. Scott said the storm could turn into a Category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall midweek.
A hurricane watch has been issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River in Florida. Tropical storm and storm surge watches have been issued from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Tampa Bay. By 5 a.m., maximum sustained speeds were just shy of hurricane strength, at 70 miles per hour.
"This storm has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend and every family must be prepared".
The storm was about 130 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and moving north-northeast at about 3 mph. The storm has increased from winds of 35 miles per hour on Sunday to 75 miles per hour by late Monday morning.
Many of these areas seeing the downpour of rain could also see life-threatening flash floods, the hurricane center said.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.
As of Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service's Raleigh office was forecasting 3 inches of rain in central North Carolina from Tuesday through Friday, including chances for rain ahead of Michael's expected arrival.
Hurricane Michael has officially formed off the coast of Mexico. The storm was about 140 miles (230 kilometers) south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba as of Sunday evening.
Tropical Storm force winds are very possible along a large portion of the viewing area, with hurricane force winds also possible.
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