Tropical Storm Michael nears hurricane strength as Florida prepares

Infrared satellite loop with lightning flashes overlaid

Infrared satellite loop with lightning flashes overlaid

Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Governor Scott also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas. This area is expected to face the full range of hurricane hazards as early as Tuesday, which include torrential rain, damaging winds, coastal flooding from rising ocean waters or storm surge and tornadoes. The storm went from 40 mph on Sunday to 75 mph on Monday and is expected to undergo rapid intensification again in the next 24 hours.

Its maximum sustained winds were measured at 70 miles per hour.

A major hurricane is a Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane, which has winds of at least 111 miles per hour. They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area tonight and on Monday.

The hurricane center upgraded the tropical depression in the Caribbean to a named tropical storm, saying it had winds of up to 40 miles per hour (65 kph). Michael, when it does make landfall, it's going to be a fast storm.

A hurricane watch has been posted for the Florida Gulf Coast, all the way from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwannee River in Florida. Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is expected to become a major hurricane by Tuesday night.

Most of the impacts from the storm are expected to be east of the Mississippi Coast, the National Weather Service in New Orleans says. Preparation for a potential hurricane landfall needs to be complete by Tuesday. On average, the Atlantic would have about five hurricanes by October 8.

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A hurricane center graphic showed the disturbance gaining storm-level winds of over 39 miles per hour on Monday and maintaining those speeds as it potentially hits the Florida coast east of Pensacola on Wednesday.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", he said in a briefing Sunday evening.

A low pressure system south of the Azores has only a 10 percent chance of development, the Hurricane Center said.

"You cannot hide from storm surge, so get prepared and get out if evacuations are ordered".

The governor of Florida has issued a state of emergency for dozens of counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend areas.

"Floridians also know just how quickly the path of a storm can change and that's why we all must be vigilant and get prepared today". Swells generated by Michael will affect the south coast of Cuba and the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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