Michael upgraded to a hurricane

Michael upgraded to a hurricane

Michael upgraded to a hurricane

Even though the storm is predicted to make landfall Wednesday further north, Scott warned that areas as far south as Tampa Bay could be battered by unsafe storm surge as the storm passes by.

Floridians scurried to prepare after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties.

Currently, Michael poses no risk to Florida's Space Coast.

A Hurricane Watch was issued for the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwannee River.

The storm is strengthening and expected to hit the Florida Gulf Coast as a unsafe major hurricane Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm achieved hurricane status with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour Monday morning, triggering warnings of a life-threatening storm surge that could hit the Florida Gulf Coast.

Michael was expected to make landfall Wednesday in parts of the Panhandle where county jail inmates were enlisted last week to help clean up fish killed by the red tide. The biggest concerns for the Florida coastline, particularly an area between Destin and Apalachicola, are strong winds and a damaging storm surge.

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At 2 p.m. the center of the storm was about 20 miles southwest of the western tip of Cuba.

The governor warns that storm surge could be as high as 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) in some parts of the Panhandle and 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) in the Tampa Bay area.

"At this time. there are no plans for (a local state of emergency) but the storm is changing and shifting, so if there is a need to do that, between now and then, then commissioners (Tuesday) morning would learn of that", Manatee County information outreach manager Nick Azzara said. "Residents and businesses in coastal Alabama must be vigilant and closely monitor the storm's path and be prepared for a major hurricane". Monday, it became the seventh hurricane of 2018 in the Atlantic Basin.

Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km) primarily to the east of the center. (The 11am ET forecast on Monday from the National Hurricane Center calls for 120mph winds for Michael at landfall).

After landfall, Michael is expected to weaken as it tracks quickly northeast, and the forecast track brings the center across southeast Georgia and southeast SC in the Wednesday night and Thursday time period. These chances could go up as we get greater confidence in the forecast. A warning indicates tropical storm conditions are expected, in this case, within 24 hours.

Once Michael makes landfall, it is expected to move northeastward across the Florida panhandle into southern Georgia.

Ray Martin, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said heavy rain from Michael poses the greatest threat to Maryland.

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