It's now Hurricane Michael and it's hitting Cuba

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael lower right churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a view of Tropical Storm Michael lower right churning as it heads toward the Florida Panhandle

Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 26 counties as Tropical Storm Michael lashed Cuba and is forecast to become a hurricane later Monday as it churns toward the United States.

Florida State University said its campuses in Tallahassee and Panama City will be closed from Tuesday to Friday.

The hurricane was moving north about 9 miles per hour, expected to pass through the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in the United States late Wednesday. A Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour. The fast developing storm is now a Category 1 hurricane expected to strengthen as it nears Florida.

As of 11 a.m. Monday, Hurricane Michael reached winds of 75 miles per hour and is moving through deep, warm water as it approaches the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical storm watches are in effect from the Alabama/Florida line to the Alabama/Mississippi line and from the Suwannee River to Tampa Bay. The biggest concerns for the Florida coastline, particularly an area between Destin and Apalachicola, are strong winds and a damaging storm surge. It is becoming more likely, but still not certain, at this point that some of our southern counties could see hurricane force wind gusts (74mph+) In addition to the wind, Michael could be a decent rain maker, with several inches of rain possible. On average, the Atlantic would have about five hurricanes by October 8. Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches have been posted for the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", he said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm.

"Everybody's got to get ready. Don't take a chance", he said.

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Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has cancelled campaigning in South Florida as he bids to become state governor in the forthcoming midterm elections.

County commissioners will receive and update from Public Safety officials Tuesday morning, Azzara said.

In 2016, Hurricane Hermine, a Category 1 storm, knocked out power for a week or more in the city.

Hurricane conditions will spread across the far western part of the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio this afternoon and evening. "We know that a storm like Michael can be devastating and deadly".

The storm is projected to hit somewhere in Florida on Wednesday or early Thursday.

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued over the northeastern portion of Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula and the western portions of Cuba ahead of the storm.

Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rains on Sunday and into early Monday. There is also a threat of tornadoes, especially if the storm moves to the west of Myrtle Beach.

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