Michael crawls north, rising threat to Florida

Chance of tropical depression or tropical storm developing in Gulf has increased

Chance of tropical depression or tropical storm developing in Gulf has increased

A cold front is expected to swing in from the west which will help to push Michael further east with estimated landfall somewhere between the Alabama and Florida Panhandle coastline sometime on Wednesday based on this current track.

The storm brewing in the Caribbean strengthened to become Tropical Storm Michael about noon on Sunday, and experts now expect it to develop into a hurricane that could impact the Carolinas.

Aside from winds potentially nearing 200 km/h, the storm's main impacts are expected to include extreme rainfall (up to and exceeding 250 mm in the worst-hit areas of the panhandle), flooding, the the potential for "life-threatening" mudslides in mountainous areas along its route. The storm will accelerate and strengthen to category two or three hurricane status through Tuesday night, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth in Cuba, and the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche.

In the United States, a storm surge watch has been issued from Navarre, Florida to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

A Tropical Storm Watch was issued from Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, which also includes Tampa Bay.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said Monday that the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. update on Monday has the storm making landfall as a Category 1 or Category 2 storm before moving up through the southeastern U.S.

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

Scott encouraged residents in the path of the storm to prepare now, and directed everyone to visit FloridaDisaster.org to find information on emergency preparedness, shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes.

Over the weekend, Governor Scott urged Floridians to get ready now if they haven't already done so. "Don't take a chance". "It's going to be fast moving and we're not likely to see a lot of widespread flooding, but certainly minor flooding is a possibility".

"Today, I will be declaring a state of emergency in counties in the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend and directing the State Emergency Operations Center to activate". The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center.

In its most recent advisory Monday, the Hurricane Center upgraded Michael from a tropical storm when maximum sustained winds were recorded at 75 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Then, wind shear will become weaker and Michael will become stronger.

Michael's trek to Florida is affecting politics in the state.

With Scott running for U.S. Senate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum running for governor, the threat of the storm quickly affected this fall's elections.

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