Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

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Outer bands from Michael are expected to produce up to 4 inches (10 cm) of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys, one of several areas in the state devastated by Hurricane Irma previous year.

Michael has undergone a period of "rapid intensification" - defined as an increase of sustained winds of 35 mph in a 24-hour period. It has the potential to undergo rapid intensification when it enters the Gulf before turning northeast towards Florida. Leslie continues as a tropical storm over the Central Atlantic, but is forecast to briefly become a hurricane again.

Wind gusts in central North Carolina could reach 40 miles per hour.

The storm will be moving at a steady clip, so it is unlikely to produce the type of extreme rainfall that Hurricane Florence did.

Florida has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Tropical Storm Michael which is due to hit the U.S. coast next week. The bottom line is that tropical storm force winds are likely, meaning winds ranging from 40 miles per hour to as high as 70+. A Hurricane Watch has been issued from the Alabama-Florida border to the Suwanee River. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.

"Nearly all of the intensity models bring the cyclone to hurricane strength over the Gulf of Mexico in 2 to 3 days", the 10 a.m. Sundayforecast discussion by the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane season runs through November 30. It is forecasted to become a Category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall somewhere in northwest Florida.

"Everybody's got to get ready".

"Take this seriously and keep your family safe", Scott said from Bay County on Monday.

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Scott addressed reporters Sunday afternoon at the state Emergency Operations Center.

Water levels along the west coast of the Bay Area could rise.

Panama City is about 375 miles away from Tampa.

In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency in anticipation of damage from Hurricane Michael.

Tropical storm warnings were already in effect for the Mexican coast from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, as well as Pinar Del Rio and the Isle of Youth in Cuba. The storm is most likely to make a direct strike on Florida's Gulf Coast, but coastal Alabama and MS also may deal with direct storm effects and should monitor forecasts.

Before Michael hits the United States, it's expected to dump 3 to 7 inches of rain on western Cuba.

According to an alert published by the Cuban Civil Defense, meteorologists warned affected residents that they could experience hurricane-force winds. The storm could inundate more than one-fourth of that coast's dunes, causing flooding behind the protective dune line, said Kara Doran, leader of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Storm Team.