Tropical Storm Michael is strengthening, likely becomes a hurricane today

Potential Tropical Cyclone Could Hit The US This Week

Known as "Potential Tropical Cyclone 14" by the National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to form in the northwestern Caribbean Sea this weekend, with heavy rains heading for western Cuba.

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. The storm is expected to gain hurricane status by Monday night or Tuesday as its core slowly crawls into the Gulf of Mexico, nearing the Florida Panhandle coast around midweek. As of Monday morning, Michael was moving north at 7mph with maximum winds near hurricane strength.

As of the 5 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael had sustained winds of 140 miles per hour with stronger gusts. It is becoming more likely, but still not certain, at this point that some of our southern counties could see hurricane force wind gusts (74mph+) In addition to the wind, Michael could be a decent rain maker, with several inches of rain possible.

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

Outer bands from Michael are expected to produce up to 4 inches (10 cm) of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys, one of several areas in the state devastated by Hurricane Irma previous year. Should the storm stay east most of our area would be on the dry side similar to Gordon earlier this year. This rainfall may lead to life-threatening flash floods.

Despite approaching Florida from the Gulf Coast side, Tropical Storm Michael is expected to have some impact on Northeast Florida.

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Tropical Storm Michael became the thirteen named storm in the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season on Sunday afternoon. While forecast models broadly expect the storm to reach hurricane strength, models have varied views on the storm's forward speed, meaning there is still uncertainty about when it might reach the US coast.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

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.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km). The system was located just east of the Yucatan Peninsula and moving northward at 7 miles per hour. It will then move northeastward across the southeastern U.S. Wednesday night.

Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, opened two locations Sunday where residents could get sandbags to prepare for flooding.

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