Tropical Storm Michael forms in the Yucatan

Tropical Storm Michael forms in the Yucatan

Tropical Storm Michael forms in the Yucatan

On the forecast track, on Monday, the storm will move over the Yucatan Channel and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday through Tuesday night, and approach the United States northeastern Gulf coast on Wednesday.

Tropics: Tropical Storm Michael was named on Sunday and is set to travel into the Gulf over the next couple of days.

Its maximum sustained winds were measured at 70 miles per hour.

Lowndes County can expect "at least" 40 miles per hour winds, with gusts to hurricane strength, and three to five inches of rain when the storm moves through the county Wednesday, said Kelly Godsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Tallahassee, Fla., office.

After the storm moves inland, it could dump additional unwanted rain on the Carolinas, which were battered by Florence in September.

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NOAA's National Hurricane Center issued a Public Advisory at 11 a.m.

Fueled by warm tropical waters, fast-strengthening Michael could gain major hurricane status with winds topping 111 miles per hour (179 kph) before its anticipated landfall Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend area of Florida, forecasters have warned.

Michael was lashing western Cuba late Monday morning with heavy rains and strong winds, according to the hurricane center.

On the NHC forecast track, the center of Michael will move northward near the western tip of Cuba this afternoon and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by tonight.

Hurricane force winds extend outwards as much as 30 miles and tropical-storm-force winds up to 175 miles from the center of Michael.

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Forecasters are calling on Florida Gulf Coast residents to monitor the storm's approach, warning of the possibility of storm surge, heavy rains and unsafe winds as it approaches the U.S. Southeast.

Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend on Sunday and has put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert. Swells are expected to begin affecting the coast of the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico during the next day or so.

National Weather Service The recently upgraded tropical storm is forecast to become a hurricane before making landfall along Florida's Panhandle. "Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area". A hurricane warning was in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwanee River, with a hurricane watch in place from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Isolated areas could get 12 inches and life-threatening flash floods.

An Air Force hurricane hunter airplane was being sent into the storm to investigate, the hurricane center said.

A news release from the governor's office said declaring a state of emergency ensures that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare for the storm.

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Tropical Storm Michael's impacts could be similar to what was seen during Hurricane Hermine, when 80 percent of Tallahassee lost power.

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