Michael to gain hurricane strength as it approaches Florida

Storms most likely path spares La., but forecasters urge caution

Storms most likely path spares La., but forecasters urge caution

Forecasters advised residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast to monitor the storm's progress. 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.

Michael is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday.

The NHC says that Michael is expected to cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline because of a risky storm surge and tide.

The timing and trajectory of the storm could change as it heads north.

Satellite wind data indicated the depression had strengthened Sunday morning with maximum winds of 40 miles per hour. The forecast called for the storm's eye to move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico between Monday night and Tuesday night and approach the Gulf Coast on Wednesday. This storm is expected to stay away from southwest Florida, and there are a few reasons for that.

The storm could bring rainfall totals of 3 to 7 inches over western Cuba and 2 to 4 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize through Tuesday. A warning indicates tropical storm conditions are expected, in this case, within 24 hours. When it first reached tropical storm status, it was expected to become no stronger than a category 1 hurricane.

Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft observations from the evening forecast showed that the center of the storm has re-formed further northeast closer to the deepest convection, as Michael finishes ingesting a disturbance from the Eastern Pacific, noted WeatherTiger forecaster Ryan Truchelut, who partners with the USA TODAY Florida network to provide hurricane forecasts. A storm surge of up to 12 feet is forecast for a large section of the Florida coast.

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The governor warned that there is potential for "devastating impact to communities across the Panhandle and Big Bend".

Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.

As of Sunday evening, Storm Michael, packing winds of 60 miles per hour, was moving north at 5 miles per hour just east of Cozumel, a Mexican island in the Caribbean, the National Hurricane Center reported.

Right now, the National Hurricane Center predicts a landfall along the Florida panhandle on Wednesday.

While the storm will pass well west of Tampa Bay, the area will see gusty south and southeast winds with showers Monday through Wednesday.

The storm was about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Cozumel, Mexico by mid-day Sunday.

Tropical Storm Michael is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane Monday afternoon and impact the Gulf Coast by the middle of the week.

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