Tropical storm watch issued for Manatee as Tropical Storm Michael approaches Florida

Tuesday, 09 Oct, 2018

Meanwhile, long-lived Tropical Storm Leslie was expected to gradually strengthen over the Atlantic Ocean but was no threat to the USA coastline.

The NHC says hurricane conditions are expected over parts of western Cuba, and that the storm is forecast to become a hurricane.

"Michael could produce three life-threatening hazards along portions of the northeastern Gulf Coast: storm surge, heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds", according to the hurricane center.

A Storm Surge Watch and Tropical Storm Watch have both been issued for coastal areas including Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.

Tropical storm watches are in effect from Suwanee River, Florida, to Anna Maria Island, Florida, including Tampa Bay.

The governor warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.

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He also stated in his message that there was reason to believe that Tropical Storm Michael could become a Category 3 hurricane, but it is unknown if weather officials have confirmed that possibility.

Current advisory shows winds are sustained at 75 miles per hour.

"Every single nursing home in the state of Florida has a plan in place", said FHA Executive Director, J. Emmett Reed.

"Yesterday at this time it was still a tropical depression and now its a hurricane", said Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University. "We know that a storm like Michael can be devastating and deadly".

Scott activated 500 National Guard troops in advance of the storm.

"All indications are that it's going to be severe", said City Commissioner Gil Ziffer, adding that if the storm hits Florida's capital, there would be significant tree damage and power outages. This rainfall could lead to life threatening flash floods. "This is coming very fast".

Tropical storm conditions are possible in Flagler County on Wednesday and Thursday, the Weather Service office in Jacksonville said Sunday, warning that minor flooding might be possible in low-lying or poorly drained areas. "Storm preparations should be rushed to completion today and Tuesday".

The storm was centered about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the western tip of Cuba, and about 140 miles (220 kilometers) east-northeast of Cozumel, Mexico.

The center of Michael is expected to move across the Yucatán Channel - a strait between Mexico and Cuba - Monday, slowly making its way across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through Wednesday.

After the storm moves inland, it could dump additional unwanted rain on the Carolinas, which were battered by Florence in September.

NBC 26 meteorologists are tracking Michael.

Hurricane season 2018 isn't slowing down just yet. But Scott said the storm is different from hurricanes that have hit Florida the past couple of years.

Once the storm makes landfall on the Gulf Coast, it is expected to head northeast Wednesday and Thursday.