A tropical storm off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula has rapidly strengthened and could become a risky hurricane before an expected midweek strike on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said Monday.
Additionally, we have a Storm Surge Watch up for Tampa Bay Waters as well as High Surf Advisories, Rip Current Advisories and a Small Craft Advisory.
A tropical storm watch was issued from Suwannee River to Anna Maria Island, which also includes Tampa Bay.
"Heavy rainfall from Michael could produce life-threatening flash flooding from the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region into portions of the Carolinas through Thursday", the hurricane center said.
By Monday morning, Tropical Storm Michael's maximum sustained winds were near 70 miles per hour (110 kph).
"The main hazards will be gusty winds, flooding and isolated tornadoes", the National Weather Service's Hazardous Weather Outlook for South Florida said at 11 a.m. Monday. Tropical storm winds extended out 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the storm's center. Another Watch is in effect for the Alabama-Florida border to the Mississippi-Alabama border.
The track takes the developing storm as a hurricane toward a landfall near the Florida Panhandle Wednesday.
The National Hurricane Center says Michael is now a hurricane and will continue to strengthen as it approaches the U.S this week.
Scott warned that Michael could reach land as a Category 2 hurricane, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
Scott declared an emergency in 35 counties and has asked President Trump for help ahead of the storm. Scott advised Gulf Coast residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders, and he put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert.
Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said anywhere from Panama City to Cedar Key, Florida could see significant storm surge from Hurricane Michael.
The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is actively monitoring what has recently developed into Hurricane Michael.
Forecasters say it could become a risky Category 2 hurricane by the time of an expected midweek landfall on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle.
The storm moved north on a path between Cozumel in southeastern Mexico and the western tip of Cuba, the Miami-based institution said.
"This new official forecast brings the intensity to just below major hurricane strength in 48 hours", said NHC Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg, "and since the storm will still be over water for a time between 48 and 72 hours, there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall".
"As this system moves north into the Gulf, it is going to drag a lot of moisture up over Cuba and into South Florida".