Florida declares state of emergency in 26 counties as Hurricane Michael approaches

Potential Tropical Cyclone Could Hit The US This Week

As of Sunday afternoon, Tropical Storm Michael has developed in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Michael's maximum sustained winds had reached 70 miles per hour, it said.

The eye is expected to move inland over the Florida panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday.

Thankfully, Michael is not expected to be a huge rain maker for SWFL, as the heaviest rain from the storm will stay well to our west.

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Hurricane Michael formed Monday morning in the Caribbean Sea and is heading for a landfall as a major hurricane with 115-mph winds along the Gulf Coast by midweek.

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.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center. But it rapidly intensified, and its top winds clocked in at 60 miles per hour (95 kph) by late Sunday evening. The forecast called for the storm's eye to move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico between Monday night and Tuesday night and approach the Gulf Coast on Wednesday. The strengthening tropical storm is predicted to become a hurricane - and even an intense one.

The hurricane center warned that the storm could produce a foot (30 centimeters) of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. The storm is now a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale which measures hurricane intensity, with 1 being the weakest and 5 the strongest.

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The storm was located by midday Sunday about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Cozumel, Mexico. It also was about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south-southwest of the western tip of Cuba. It is moving north at a speed of around 7 m.p.h.

"There is still too much uncertainty to discuss specific impacts, but we do know there will be a HIGH rip current risk, high surf, and increased rain chances beginning Monday", the National Weather Service Mobile/Pensacola said. On Sunday, CEMA urged residents to maintain awareness of the storm. The storm will accelerate and strengthen to category two or three hurricane status through Tuesday night, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday. "This storm will be life-threatening and really risky".

Governor Scott says all Floridians need to be prepared, in case the storm shifts.

A news release from the Governor's office stated that 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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