It is expected that Michael, now centered about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico, will dump four to eight inches of rain, with totals reaching more than 12 inches in isolated areas, potentially causing "life-threatening" flash floods and mudslides, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's moving north at about 7 miles per hour, and is expected to pass between Mexico and Cuba before heading toward Florida.
"Michael is forecast to be near or at major hurricane strength when it reaches the northeastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday", said a 7 a.m. update from the center. "There are very shallow waters along the coast where Michael is expected to make landfall, where the continental shelf extends out about 70 - 90 miles from shore", they wrote. On Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center issued a Storm Surge Watch from Navarre to Anna Maria Island, including Tampa Bay.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties in Florida's Panhandle and Big Bend areas. He warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.
Tropical storm watches are in effect from from the Alabama/Florida line to the Alabama/Mississippi line and from the Suwannee River to Tampa Bay. Hurricane watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area.
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Not only is the coastline in danger, so are inland areas of Florida, Alabama and Georgia, forecasters warn.
"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.
The NHC forecasters said the storm has become better organized Monday morning, and the westerly wind shear that was supposed to curtail its strengthening hasn't had the desired effect. This rainfall could lead to life threatening flash floods.Florida Peninsula, Florida Keys, portions of the Mid-Atlantic States, and the southern New England coast.2 to 4 inches with local amounts of 6 inches.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, had planned to campaign in South Florida Monday and Tuesday, but he said he would return to Tallahassee to help with storm preparations.