Warnings issued as Michael continues track toward Florida, Alabama, Georgia

Courtesy MGN

Courtesy MGN

A storm surge watch and tropical storm watch are in effect for the Tampa Bay area.

A Hurricane Watch is now in effect from the Alabama-Florida border to Suwannee River, Florida.

The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. Again, as we get closer, we can determine how likely hurricane force winds will be, too.

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He also stated in his message that there was reason to believe that Tropical Storm Michael could become a Category 3 hurricane, but it is unknown if weather officials have confirmed that possibility.

A major hurricane is a Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane, which has winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

Michael's trek to Florida is affecting politics in the state.

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The governor declared a state of emergency for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus counties. Scott advised Gulf Coast residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders, and he put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert.

"While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees", Tallahassee officials said in a statement. "This is coming very fast".

Threats include damaging winds and flooding rain, along with storm surge and inland flooding along the immediate coast. Needless to say, Michael should be taken seriously. "Storm preparations should be rushed to completion today and Tuesday".

Midday Monday, winds were already clocking in at 75 mph 140 miles east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with authorities predicting Cuba could see between 4 and 8 inches of rain - which could lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

"As this system moves north into the Gulf, it is going to drag a lot of moisture up over Cuba and into South Florida".

Hurricane season 2018 isn't slowing down just yet.

In anticipation of travel impacts, Southwest has implemented a flexible rebooking policy for customers scheduled to fly to or from several cities in the storm's path this week, including New Orleans, Panama City, Florida and Pensacola, Florida Tuesday through Thursday. It's forecast to move toward the Baja this week and eventually make landfall as a tropical storm by week's end.

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