Florida Gov. Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Hurricane

"Steady to rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or so, and Michael is forecast to become a major hurricane by Tuesday or Tuesday night", the hurricane center said Monday. Michael was likely to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane sometime Tuesday, meteorologist Danielle Niles of CBS Boston station WBZ-TV reports.

Michael now has maximum sustained winds at 75 miles per hour, making it a Category 1 hurricane. It was moving north at 12 miles per hour. Michael was forecast to push through warm, relatively shallow Gulf of Mexico waters before moving inland over the northern Gulf coast of Florida.

He also warned caregivers at north Florida hospitals and nursing homes to do all possible to assure the safety of the elderly and infirm.

Wool raised concerns about potential storm surge in Franklin County's Apalachee Bay, which he described as the "second-most vulnerable stretch of coastline in the entire nation for storm surge, because of the shape of the coastline".

Also, Florida State University said in a tweet that it will close Tuesday through Friday. The school's main campus is in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee, which is in the Panhandle, and a satellite campus is in Panama City on the Panhandle's coast. "While the impacts are still uncertain, our area could experience increased wind activity and heavy rainfall, which could cause localized flooding and downed trees", Tallahassee officials said in a statement.

A spokesman for Scott, who's now running for U.S. Senate, said he's going to not campaign for the "next few days" to focus on storm preparations.

Florida governor Rick Scott said Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle. 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.

Since the storm will spend two to three days over the Gulf of Mexico, which has warm water and favourable atmospheric conditions, "there is a real possibility that Michael will strengthen to a major hurricane before landfall", Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the Miami-based storm forecasting hub, wrote in an advisory.

At Florida Gov. Rick Scott's request, President Trump approved a pre-landfall emergency declaration for the 35 counties where the governor already had declared a state of emergency because of the approaching storm. He warned that a storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm's direct path.

7 P.M. Michael continued a slow process of strengthening Monday and at the 7 p.m. intermediate advisory had winds of 85 miles per hour. But within hours, it gained more punch and its top sustained winds clocked in at 60 mph by late Sunday evening.

After hitting Florida, Michael will move northeastward across the southeastern part of the country Wednesday night and Thursday, according to the NHC. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles (56 kilometres) from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 175 miles (280 kilometres).

The Florida Panhandle, Big Bend and southern Georgia were expected to receive as much as 8 inches (20 cm) of rainfall, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches that may lead to severe flash flooding.

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely unsafe", Scott said at a press briefing. Gillum's campaign said the Democrat was planning to return to Tallahassee on Sunday to focus on preparing the city for the storm.

Michael was forecast to have the power to uproot trees, block roads and knock out power for days by the time it hits Florida on Wednesday.

Hurricane Michael would be the first major hurricane to hit the panhandle since Hurricane Dennis in 2005, which made landfall near Pensacola, according to hurricane center data.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Alabama/Florida border to the Mississippi/Alabama border, Suwanee River Florida to Chassahowitzka Florida, the Cuban province of the Isle of Youth and the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche, including Cozumel A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Chassahowitzka to Anna Maria Island Florida, including Tampa Bay, and Mississippi/Alabama border to the Mouth of the Pearl River.

Vanessa Coleman