Michael crawls north, rising threat to Florida

Tropical Impacts Possible This Week

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Michael could strengthen at some point to a category 4 storm.

Right now, we do not have any active warnings or watched regarding this system, but that will likely change as Tropical Storm Michael moves closer to us and strengthens.

As forecast, Michael would be the first Category 3 or higher hurricane to hit the Panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005. Significant impacts are expected near landfall along the Florida Panhandle to the Big Bend.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Alabama Gulf coast, while a Hurricane Watch has been issued for the northwestern coast of Florida.

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Tropical Storm Michael has formed in the northwestern Caribbean as of early Sunday afternoon. At this time of year wind shear can tear storms structures apart, but some meteorologists are suggesting that wind shear will be lower than normal, providing an environment more conducive to intensification and for the storm to maintain its structure over the coming days.

"Michael is forecast to be a hurricane, and possibly a major hurricane, when it reaches the northeastern Gulf Coast by mid-week".

"Nearly all of the intensity models bring the cyclone to hurricane strength over the Gulf of Mexico in 2 to 3 days", the 10 a.m. Sundayforecast discussion by the National Hurricane Center said.

In Polk County, the hurricane could produce tropical-storm-force winds, along with a smattering of rain. A warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the designated area, and warnings are typically issued 36 hours before tropical-storm-force winds are expected, the weather service said.

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A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday.

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. The storm is expected to gain hurricane status by Monday night or Tuesday as its center moves over the Yucatan Channel and then crosses the Gulf of Mexico, nearing the Florida Panhandle coast by Wednesday. This rainfall could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.Florida Panhandle and Big Bend into the Carolinas.4 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches. "It will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe".

According to the National Hurricane Center's 7 a.m. advisory, TD 14 was about 100 miles east-northeast of Chetumal on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula or about 240 miles south-southwest of Cuba's western tip.

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