Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Michael upgraded to hurricane, forecast to become major hurricane

Michael upgraded to hurricane, forecast to become major hurricane

Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rains on Sunday and into early Monday as it churned in the Caribbean.

Though Michael's impact on Northeast Florida could be hard to predict, emergency operation centers in the area are preparing for the storm.

Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle.

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

A tropical storm that rapidly formed off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has gained new strength and could become a unsafe Category 2 hurricane with an expected midweek strike on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle, forecasts say.

Meanwhile, Scott, the Republican nominee for US Senate, will be leaving the campaign trail for the "next few days" to address storm preparations, a campaign spokesperson told CNN. The center warned heavy rain, unsafe winds and life-threatening storm surges were possible across Western Cuba on Monday as winds picked up speed on the Gulf Coast.

Michael was a Category 1 hurricane but could make landfall as a Category 3, and forecasters warned it could send down 10 to 30 centimetres of rain.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for Navarre Florida to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay. DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK -------- At 400 PM CDT (2100 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Michael was located near latitude 19.2 North, longitude 85.5 West. Michael is moving toward the north-northeast near 3 miles per hour (6 km/h).

He also has declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and asked President Donald Trump for assistance ahead of the storm.

"This is a part of the Gulf of Mexico that is incredibly vulnerable to storm surge", Graham said. Monday, it became the seventh hurricane of 2018 in the Atlantic Basin. 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.

Chatham Emergency Management Agency has entered OPCON 4 and is monitoring Tropical Storm Michael. The system was packing maximum sustained wind of around 70 miles per hour, and is expected to achieve hurricane status later today.

The governor noted that while state officials are prepared for the storm, she said "now is the time for residents in south Alabama to review your emergency preparedness plans and also get prepared" - warning that those in Michael's path "will need to take shelter by [Tuesday] evening".

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