The latest on Tropical Storm Michael

Tuesday, 09 Oct, 2018

The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm with its 11 a.m. advisory Tuesday, recording maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

Michael could strengthen into a major hurricane with winds topping 111 miles per hour (178 kph) by Tuesday night before an expected strike Wednesday on the Panhandle or Big Bend, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Michael formed on Sunday in the Caribbean Sea and appears to have designs on the panhandle and big bend regions of Florida, according to early forecast tracks.

Storm surges of up to 12 feet, which could lead to life-threatening flooding, have been predicted by the NHC on the Florida coast.

CNN reports that such language is warranted, for Michael is now "slashing Cuba" and is expected to reach Category 3 status (with sustained winds from 111-129 mph) by Wednesday when it reaches the USA mainland. But within hours Sunday it had gained more punch and its top sustained winds clocked in at 60 mph (95 kph) by late Sunday evening.

Scott added that Michael "has the potential to bring devastating impacts to communities across the panhandle and the big bend". The Weather Service said the storm also could contribute to minor coastal flooding early in the week, in part because of the astronomical high tides that were already forecast to occur before the storm's formation.

Scott also activated 500 members of the Florida National Guard ahead of the storm.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs through November 30, and it looks like Florida may be about to get socked with at least one more.

A storm surge watch and tropical storm watch are in effect for the Tampa Bay area.

In addition to parts of western and northern Florida, a hurricane watch is also in effect for Mobile, Alabama and surrounding areas. "Don't take a chance", he said.

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

"Michael is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding over portions of western Cuba and the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next couple of days".

Michael is now centered about 50 miles south of the western tip of Cuba and is moving north. Tropical storm to hurricane force winds are less than four days away from the United States.

"Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state", Scott said. Here are the official alerts that can be issued for your area and what you should do.