US Gulf Coast bracing for 'monstrous' Hurricane Michael

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Steady to rapid strengthening is forecasted during the next day or so.

Below is additional information from the National Hurricane Center.

A tropical weather system rapidly strengthened into Hurricane Michael off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and forecasters said it was moving Monday into the Gulf of Mexico where warm waters would continue to fuel its development.

With Hurricane Michael rapidly intensifying and threatening to smash Florida's Panhandle with risky storm surge, flooding and winds, Gov. Rick Scott didn't mince words on Monday night: "Making decisions tomorrow might be too late". On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move northward near the western tip of Cuba this afternoon and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by tonight. By 5 p.m., winds had reached maximum sustained speeds about 50 miles per hour.

The Mobile office of the National Weather Service warns a high risk of rip currents will start Monday morning and extend through Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Michael became the thirteen named storm in the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season on Sunday afternoon.

Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend area, where winds in those areas could reach more than 100 miles per hour.

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

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Tropical storm Michael formed in the Caribbean yesterday and nearly immediately meteorologists were warning of a hurricane Michael landfall in the Florida Panhandle area of the Gulf Coast around the middle of this week.

The Hurricane Center predicts that Michael will reach hurricane intensity with 80 miles per hour (or Category 1) winds by Tuesday, increasing to 100 miles per hour by Wednesday (or Category 2) around the time of landfall.

Forecasters advised residents along the northeastern and central U.S. Gulf Coast to monitor the storm's progress.

Storm and storm surge watches were issued for the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Chassahowitzka, Florida, north of Tampa Bay.

When looking at the forecast cone, remember this represents where the center of the storm will go, and it could be anywhere within the cone of uncertainty.

The north Florida city of Tallahassee on Sunday opened two locations where residents could get sandbags in case of flooding. "Higher amounts of 2" to locally 3" will be possible across southern Maryland, closer to the center of Michael's path. "Later today, I will receive a full update and briefing on the forecast and potential impacts of the storm from federal, state and local emergency management officials".

Tropical Storm Michael's impacts could be similar to what was seen during Hurricane Hermine, when 80 percent of Tallahassee lost power.