Florida comes under a hurricane watch as Michael rapidly strengthens

Nicondra Watching Tropical Wave In the Caribbean

Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. "Storm surge can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area".

Wind gusts in central North Carolina could reach 40 miles per hour.

Tropical Storm Michael has formed in the western Caribbean and is a cause for concern for thousands of cruise passengers. Hurricane conditions are expected within the next 12 hours, according to the NHC. Hurricane Watches have been issued for the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area. It is forecast to move north toward the Gulf Coast of Alabama or Florida Panhandle by midweek as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane.

Based on the current projections for its path and timing, parts of the tristate area could see tropical rainfall and be affected by the storm's winds.

Storm and storm surge watches were issued for the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi-Alabama border to Chassahowitzka, Florida, north of Tampa Bay. The center of the storm is forecast to make landfall somewhere between Pensacola and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Hurricane season runs through November 30. On average, the Atlantic would have about five hurricanes by October 8.

The Hurricane Center's forecast calls for Michael to become a hurricane later Monday and make landfall Wednesday with 100 miles per hour winds, which would make it a Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.

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"Everybody's got to get ready. 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".

SWFL, meanwhile, will avoid direct impacts as the center will stay well to the west of the area. More than 100,000 people were ordered out of a long swath of low-lying communities, including many in Bay County, home of Panama City.

Image: Forecast Track for Hurricane Michael. He is working out of the State's Emergency Operations Center.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth as well as the coast of Mexico from Tulum to Cabo Catoche. The storm is most likely to make a direct strike on Florida's Gulf Coast, but coastal Alabama and MS also may deal with direct storm effects and should monitor forecasts.

In Cuba on Sunday, Michael was expected to dump as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in western parts of the island.

Rainfall: the low is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 7 inches over western Cuba and 2 to 4 inches over the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and northern Honduras through Tuesday.

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