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

Howard TerryOct 11, 2018

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings are in effect for parts of Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, past which the storm is expected to track, while watches are in effect for much of Florida's Gulf coast, as well as Alabama.

As of the 5:00am advisory, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. Michael's center will move over the Yucatan Channel on Monday and then across the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday through Tuesday night, and approach the northeastern Gulf coast on Wednesday.

The latest track shows a weakening Michael moving either directly through, or at least near central Georgia as a tropical storm.

Storm and storm surge watches were issued for the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Chassahowitzka, Florida, north of Tampa Bay.

Because of the storm surge threat, three Florida panhandle counties have issued mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the hurricane. Tuesday and Wednesday will bring more of a southerly push to the winds, staying in the same 10-20mph range through much of the day. But within a few hours it gained more strength and by Sunday evening, it had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph).

The Hurricane Center's forecast calls for Michael to become a hurricane later Monday and make landfall Wednesday with 100 miles per hour winds, which would make it a Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

Michael's maximum sustained winds increased to 90 miles per hour on Monday night, the National Hurricane Center reported in its 11 p.m. EST update.

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. Heavy rainfall should hit the western portions of Cuba as it moves north.

Elsewhere, the hurricane center is monitoring two areas of low pressure.

With Tropical Storm Michael gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Rick Scott declared an emergency in 26 counties Sunday night including Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

They also believe that Michael will produce four to eight inches of rain in Western Cuba, with maximum amounts of 12 inches. Tampa Bay has about a 40 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds within the next five days. Isolated areas could get 12 inches and life-threatening flash floods.

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