Forecasters: Tropical depression likely in Gulf by Sunday or Monday

Forecasters: Tropical depression likely in Gulf by Sunday or Monday

Now ranked as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale, Michael could grow into a Category 3, becoming the second major hurricane in the Atlantic basin this year following Florence last month, forecasters said.

If it becomes a tropical storm as predicted, Tropical Depression Fourteen is expected to bring squally, wet weather to South Florida beginning later today, according to Robert Garcia, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"Michael could produce three life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast: storm surge, heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds", according to the hurricane center.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said in a news briefing.

Based on the current projections for its path and timing, parts of the tristate area could see tropical rainfall and be affected by the storm's winds.

Scott said 500 Florida National Guard members were activated for planning, logistics and response, and 5,000 stood at the ready.

"This storm has the potential to be a historic storm, please take heed", the sheriff's office said in the post.

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As of 5 a.m. ET, Tropical Storm Michael is about 90 miles east of Cozumel, an island off Mexico's east coast, and 100 miles west of Cuba.

The weather system, named Tropical Depression 14, was classified a cyclone as it churned through the northwestern Caribbean sea with 35 miles per hour winds on Sunday morning.

By 11 p.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds had risen some to 90 miles per hour (144 kph) as it headed north at 12 miles per hour (19 kph).

Forecasters say a tropical depression in the Caribbean could strengthen over the next several days and become a hurricane by midweek.

A very active weather pattern will bring several rounds of heavy rain to the central US over the next few days, which could lead to flash flooding, as well as severe weather in parts of the Plains, and even snow to the Northern Rockies and Plains.

Storm and storm surge watches were issued for the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Chassahowitzka, Florida, north of Tampa Bay. Scott also said Monday afternoon that state health officials are reaching out to hospitals and nursing homes to be prepared. By Monday afternoon or early Tuesday, we should have a better idea as to what this storm means for us, if anything.

Meanwhile, Scott, the Republican nominee for US Senate, will be leaving the campaign trail for the "next few days" to address storm preparations, a campaign spokesperson told CNN.

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