Hurricane Michael continues to strengthen; expected to become major hurricane

Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

By 11 a.m. Monday, Michael's top sustained winds were around 120 kph. Movement was to the north at 7 miles per hour and the central pressure was 982 millibars.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on October 7 declared a state of emergency for several areas in Florida and "also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas".

The fast developing storm is now a Category 1 hurricane expected to strengthen as it nears Florida.

A hurricane watch has been posted for the Florida Gulf Coast, all the way from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida.

A tropical storm that rapidly formed off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has gained new strength and could become a unsafe Category 2 hurricane with an expected midweek strike on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle, forecasts say. We'll find out later this week how severe this storm shall be, but for now, it's time to batten down those hatches.

"Heavy rainfall, wind and storm surge impacts will be possible across portions of the northern Gulf Coast by midweek", according to the hurricane center.

Right now, the National Hurricane Center's forecast path shows Michael may make landfall between Pensacola and Destin, Florida, on Wednesday. Another Watch is in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

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At 2 p.m. the center of the storm was about 20 miles southwest of the western tip of Cuba.

"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.

Florida has already declared an emergency in 26 counties.

Also in that report, Dixon said Gillum's handling of the storm situation and his ensuing feud with Scott loomed over his political future. There is also some concern about storm surge.

Michael was lashing western Cuba late Monday morning with heavy rains and strong winds, according to the hurricane center. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers). Locally ordered evacuations of thousands of homes have begun, with 1,250 National Guard soldiers aiding the process and over 4,000 troops on standby, Scott tweeted.

Michael was upgraded to a hurricane Monday and is expected to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane before reaching the Panhandle and Big Bend area on Wednesday. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in areas of mountainous terrain. It's forecast to move toward the Baja this week and eventually make landfall as a tropical storm by week's end.

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