Tropical Storm Michael Will Become a Hurricane Monday

Tropical Storm Michael is currently on a path towards Florida and weather experts now believe the storm could strengthen into a category 2 hurricane.

It's expected to move over the Yucatan Channel and then crosses the Gulf of Mexico, nearing the Florida Panhandle coast by Wednesday.

As of the 2 p.m. advisory, Michael is now a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

Michael is forecast to make landfall by midweek in Florida's Panhandle or Big Bend. Landfall is now forecast as a Category 2 with 110 miles per hour, but a Category 3 is possible given the recent rapid intensification. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. "Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area by Tuesday night or early Wednesday", the NHC added.

The storm's track and strength are still uncertain, but eastern Virginia could see rain as early as Thursday night, NWS meteorologist Jeff Orrock said.

Michael has been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it continues to move toward the Gulf Coast of the United States.

By 11 a.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 75 miles per hour.

As of 8 a.m. EDT Monday, the storm was centred about 190 kilometres east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and moving to the north at about 11 kph.

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Monday, it became the seventh hurricane of 2018 in the Atlantic Basin.

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.

"You've got to take care of yourself", said Scott after a briefing at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in Southport.

While the storm will pass well west of Tampa Bay, the area will see gusty south and southeast winds with showers Monday through Wednesday.

After landfall, Michael is forecast to move northeastward over Georgia and the Carolinas, where recovery from Hurricane Florence is ongoing.

The Florida panhandle will be hardest hit, with parts of the Tallahassee and Panama City areas getting 12 inches of rainfall along with damaging winds.

Most of the rain and wind will likely be on Friday and Saturday.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 elections, said on Sunday he was cancelling his campaign events and returning to Tallahassee, the state capital, to focus on storm preparations.

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