Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

Tropical Storm Michael, Heading North, Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

Tropical Storm Michael has turned into a hurricane and is expected to strengthen rapidly before hitting Florida this week, bringing with it winds of at least 160 kilometres per hour and life-threatening flash flooding.

Rick Scott gave a statement regarding the storm on Monday morning, saying that he has declared a State of Emergency in 26 counties ahead of the landfall.

Michael, now a Category 1 hurricane slashing Cuba, is forecast to be a "dangerous major hurricane" when it smacks the US Gulf Coast on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

"We've seen this happen many times with storms, and they've just start to bring all that water with them", explained FOX 13's meteorologist Dave Osterberg, "and they've pushed that water in".

The storm's center track for now is projected to take Michael northeast into southwest Georgia over Albany and east of Macon.

Forecasts show Hurricane Michael will likely travel north after making landfall on the Gulf Coast, then turn east, potentially hitting the Hampton Roads region.

This storm is very different than Florence because it will NOT stall. King tides also could factor in to how much water the area will see, but, he said, those also are being monitored.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is also the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the November 6 election, said on Sunday he was cancelling his campaign events and returning to Tallahassee, the state capital, to focus on storm preparations.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", Scott said at a press briefing. "This is a massive storm".

Hurricane watches and storm surge watches have been issued along the Florida Panhandle. "The storm is expected to increase rain chances across the Tampa Bay area this week", ABC Action News reports.

Can New Hanover County's shelters handle a bigger storm?

With widespread power outages expected, Scott said he wants local governments to confirm that mutual-aid agreements with electric utilities have been signed so there is no delay in restoration.

Hurricane Michael's path to Florida and Alabama as of 11 a.m. on October 8, 2018.

Hurlburt, near Valparaiso, Florida, is not planning to evacuate personnel, but officials at nearby Eglin Air Force Base are still deciding whether to order airmen to and their families to evacuate. Scott also asked President Donald Trump for a declaration that would help provide federal assistance. The men saw each other earlier Monday in Orlando at the International Association of Chief of Police's annual convention.

Scott has historically hunkered down in the Tallahassee emergency operations center before storms. All schools in Panama City and surrounding Bay County will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gillum's Republican opponent Ron DeSantis has made it a campaign issue by calling the Tallahassee mayor unfit to lead.