THIS WEEK: Hurricane Michael and a significant cold front

Infrared satellite loop with lightning flashes overlaid

Before Michael arrives, moist air pushed north by the storm will start boosting South Georgia's afternoon storm chances through Tuesday, Strait said.

"Michael is expected to affect portions of the Florida Gulf Coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm's exact track or intensity", the Hurricane Center warned.

Tropical storm Michael formed off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula Sunday, and quickly strengthened to hurricane status by Monday, faster than expected.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...

"There is an increasing risk of unsafe storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts over portions of the northern Gulf Coast by mid-week, although it is too soon to specify the exact location and magnitude of these impacts", the forecast discussion said.

Scott encouraged residents in the path of the storm to prepare now, and directed everyone to visit to find information on emergency preparedness, shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes.

Governor Scott says all Floridians need to be prepared, in case the storm shifts. However, forecasts have gradually been revised upward, such that the storm may attain major hurricane status - category 3 or higher - before making landfall in the panhandle around Wednesday.

Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and is expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday.

A hurricane watch has been issued for north Florida and a tropical storm watch has been issued for parts of the western coast of Florida, including Tampa.

The storm at 8 a.m. was travelling with 35-mph winds.

According to the hurricane center, one potential impact from a Category 3 hurricane is that "electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes".

Scott said Sunday that he had issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area.

Tropical storm force winds are possible as early as Wednesday. Tropical storm winds extended out 175 miles (280 kilometres) from the storm's centre. Western Cuba could see isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches, the center said.

Keep in mind that in a hurricane, the impacts can stretch hundreds of miles outside the center - including wind, tropical downpours that lead to flooding, storm surge, and tornadoes.

Forecasters warned that the storm could produce up to a foot of rain in western Cuba, potentially triggering flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas.



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