Nicondra: Tropical Storm Michael Likely To Become A Hurricane

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Rick Scott announced Sunday that he had declared a state of emergency in 26 counties in the state's Panhandle and Big Bend regions as forecasters predicted Tropical Storm Michael would make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane later this week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center on Sunday upgraded Tropical Depression Michael to a named tropical storm, saying Michael earlier had winds of up to 50 miles per hour (85 kph).

Tropical Depression 14 has maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour (55 km/h), with higher gusts.

After hitting Florida, the storm is forecast to move northeast along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. "Every family must be prepared".

"Later today, I will receive a full update and briefing on the forecast and potential impacts of the storm from federal, state and local emergency management officials".

A hurricane warning and tropical storm watch are in place ahead of Michael's arrival.

In Cuba on Sunday, Michael was expected to dump as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in western parts of the island.

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Michael could make landfall as early as Wednesday morning (as predicted by the hurricane center) or as late as Thursday morning, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters said. The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center.

A hurricane watch has been issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River in Florida.

Tropical Storm Michael is slowly moving north through the Yucatan Channel bringing a tropical storm warning on Monday to Cuba's far west, including Pinar del Rio, Artemisa and Mayabeque provinces and the Isle of Youth.

Then, wind shears will become weaker and Michael will become stronger. "In addition, Michael is expected to affect portions of the Florida Gulf Coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity".

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum was scheduled to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but said he is suspending his campaign activity to address preparations for the storm, his campaign said. Hurricane Hunters are collecting data on the storm, and that data will be fed into our forecast models.

A man pulls a boat as Tropical Storm Michael approaches in Cancun, Mexico, October 7, 2018.