Tropical Storm Michael forms in Caribbean, eyes Gulf Coast

Chance of tropical depression or tropical storm developing in Gulf has increased

Chance of tropical depression or tropical storm developing in Gulf has increased

By Monday morning, Tropical Storm Michael's maximum sustained winds were near 70 miles per hour (110 kph). On the forecast track, the center of Michael will continue to move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico tonight, then move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and Tuesday night.

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Michael is becoming an increasingly serious threat to Florida's Panhandle, though still far off.

Besides the hurricane watch, a tropical storm watch is in effect from the Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay, as well as from the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Hurricane conditions are expected within the next 12 hours, according to the NHC. A Storm Surge Watch has been issued from Navarre to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay.

Parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba will undergo heavy rainfall and flash flooding Monday and Tuesday, forecasters predict.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, where Michael could roll ashore on Wednesday.

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Less than 24 hours later, on Monday, Micheal became a Category 1 hurricane.

Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. That wind shear will gradually weaken and Michael will tap into the warm Gulf water and quickly become a hurricane by this afternoon, and could flirt with Category 3 status Tuesday into Wednesday before making landfall somewhere along the Florida Panhandle Wednesday or Thursday.

The storm was about 225 miles (365km) southwest of the western tip of Cuba at 2 p.m. eastern time (18:00 GMT), with sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km), the National Weather Service said. Scott said state officials are already working on planning, logistics and first response with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense. "Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of this system". The system was located just east of the Yucatan Peninsula and moving northward at 7 miles per hour.

Central Florida is expected to see up to 4 inches of rain in the coming days as Michael's outer bands whip the region.

NWS Charleston's latest advisory on Michael anticipates impacts along the SC coast as early as Sunday night, and minor to moderate impacts along the SC and Georgia coasts Monday until Thursday.

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