Tropical Storm Michael looms over Gulf of Mexico, could become hurricane

A cold front is expected to swing in from the west which will help to push Michael further east with estimated landfall somewhere between the Alabama and Florida Panhandle coastline sometime on Wednesday based on this current track.

"This is not going to be anything like Florence", she said Monday. Governor Scott also directed the Florida National Guard to activate 500 guardsmen to assist with planning and logistics, and to prepare for response in impacted areas.

As of the 5 AM advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Michael had sustained winds of 140 miles per hour with stronger gusts.

The Hurricane Center is forecasting that Michael will be a Category 1 hurricane at landfall.

At 3:48 p.m. CDT (2048 GMT) on Saturday, the disturbance was located in the northwestern Caribbean 175 miles (282 km) south of Cozumel, Mexico, moving northwest at about 6 mph, the National Weather Service said. In the meantime, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas.

In Florida, state offices, schools and universities were set to close on Tuesday through the end of the week in panhandle counties. "We know that a storm like Michael can be devastating and deadly".

"This storm will be life-threatening and extremely risky", he said.

The Commodity Weather Group said on Sunday there might be some precautionary evacuation of oil rigs in the area affected by the storm, which may slow down operations but not likely cause much interruption.

Speaking Monday to the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Orlando, Trump urged residents to heed local warnings and pledged the federal government's support.

"It's kind of got us all on edge right now", Rachel Burke, general manger of Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar on Panama City Beach, said Monday afternoon.

"We are alarmed, to put it mildly, by how it has established an intense core (with a large area of very high cloud tops, indicating strong convection) near the circulation center in the teeth of brisk westerly wind shear", said Truchelut.

But forecasters noted there is an increasing risk of risky surge, rainfall and wind for those in the cone. "Storm preparations should be rushed to completion today and Tuesday". After that, the storm will head inland over Georgia, and then move into the Carolinas on Thursday. This includes in Haiti where recovery efforts from a deadly quake are ongoing. They said Michael could be the strongest hurricane to hit that stretch of coastline in 13 years.

Vanessa Coleman

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