Governor Rick Scott ordered a state of emergency Sunday for 26 counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend area, which will free up resources for storm preparation and recovery efforts. A hurricane watch has been posted for the northeast Gulf Coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Suwanee River, Florida, including Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee.
The Tampa, Florida, area isn't expecting a direct hit from Michael, but the city and surrounding areas, especially along the coast, will be seeing some higher-than-normal winds and a fair amount of rain from the outer bands of the storm.
As the storm moved north it battered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba with drenching rains and winds of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kph), forecasters said.
Michael has quickly gained strength since the National Weather Service issued its first bulletin on the system Saturday. Additional strengthening is expected during the next few days, and Michael is forecast to become a hurricane Monday night or Tuesday.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida's Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, but instead threw himself into helping his city's residents fill sandbags and get their storm preparations completed.
The conditions presented by county officials Monday are subject to change as the storm continues to track closer to Florida's coast. With Michael's winds projected to be even stronger than that, Wakulla County residents were urged to evacuate inland. The storm's tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles from its center.
Michael's trek to Florida is affecting politics in the state. NNE OR 20 DEGREES AT 3 miles per hour...6 KM/H MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...999 MB...29.50 INCHES WATCHES AND WARNINGS ------- CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY: None SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT: A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
By the time Michael makes it to the Carolinas, the storm is going to be flying, which should help lower the flash flood potential, but Panovich still believes there could be flooding in the mountains and eastern Carolinas. The National Hurricane Center is giving it a 50 percent chance of reaching tropical depression status this week, but no models suggest that this will become a threat to land.
Once the storm makes landfall, some projections estimate that it could make its way across Georgia and into North and SC before moving out into the Atlantic ocean.
Michael, which formed near the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday, is expected to dump 4 to 8 inches of rain - and as much as 12 inches in some areas - on western Cuba before it hits the United States.